Originally Posted by MountainMedic
i have been on all sides of situations like this before. what you have to remember is that part of our job is to come and put order to chaos. we constantly have well meaning idiots getting in the way, sometimes in very dangerous ways. its not always easy to tell an expert in street clothes from a wannabe ricky rescue that is 2 minutes away from making a small situation a major incident. and when it all turns to shit WE are the ones who take all the heat. it can't help but make us a little too controlling at times. nature of the beast.
Well said. Bystanders interfering/helping is a regular thing. It can be good or bad. I’ve done the rescue thing about 7 years. Sometimes we use bystanders to help and they are awesome. When we do that it is because we are lacking the numbers of rescuers needed and the bystander has explained their expertise and asked to help and work with us. The ones who get told to go away are the ones who are not professional and don’t listen. It’s my ass if they cause a problem.
Here's a ton of personal examples from SAR, EMS, and SWR (these took place in several different counties, but none of them were in CCC):
On a SWR recovery: my team located a kayaker’s body tacoed on a rock in the middle of the river. A bystander kayaker offered to help us with the recovery. We recognized him: a SWR instructor-instructor. We accepted his help. I learned a new trick from him too!
An avalanche rescue: a bystander walks up the trail and declares he is going to cross the path and start looking for people. He was told we are bombing the hangfire and to get the heck back and by the way who are you? He says “no I am gonna go over there and look for the people. I know them!” He got to talk to a deputy (no he wasn’t arrested).
Some mountaineers offered to help my SAR team on top of a 14er. There were only 3 of us rescuers at the top of the 14er and darkness was approaching. The next group of rescuers was thousands of feet lower. We graciously accepted their help. They helped us move the rescue gear and the patient and saved at least 2 hours in the extrication. They were thanked profusely and received commendations from the sheriff.
A bystander nurse jumped in the back of my ambulance at a car wreck and started to tell EMS personnel what to do and declared that she was going to ride with us to the hospital and wanted to start IVs and run the call etc. She got told to get the hell out or be arrested.
Some hut skiers offered to help search for missing snowmobiler. “No, we can’t direct you to search, but here is what they look like if you happen to see them and here is who to call.” “Cool.”
During a high angle rescue, a local rockclimber walks by command and starts asking what is going on and can he help. We have no idea who he is. We have plenty of personnel and the rescue is going smoothly. He is told “no, but thank you for offering.”
An unaffiliated group of skiers helped an injured backcountry skier. When the SAR team reached the patient, the skiers offered to continue to help after explaining their training. Observing their good work so far, SAR accepted their help and they sped up the rescue. They were commended by the Sherriff.
I'll be the first to admit that some emergency personnel can be abrasively dismissive when someone wants to help, often needlessly so. They should endeavor to be professional in all cases. But bruised feelings are no justification to compete.