Lifeguard Fired For Saving Life Outside Contracted Area

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Tomas Lopez, a Hallandale Beach, north of Miami Florida, lifeguard was fired for helping to rescue a swimmer who was 1500 feet outside his company’s contracted zone of responsibility. Alerted to the distressed swimmer, Lopez did what comes naturally to lifeguards, he ran to help.

While Lopez went to help the swimmer, another lifeguard, Szilard Janko, covered Lopez’s zone. Lopez and two other lifeguards were fired over the incident and three other lifeguards quit in protest.

At first the company tried to claim the company could be sued if the rescue had gone wrong:

We have liability issues and [lifeguards] can’t go out of the protected area.

Then the story went viral and the Orlando-area contracting company, Jeff Ellis Management, started backtracking. Jeff Ellis, the head of Jeff Ellis Management, said:

Clearly, he should not have been terminated for what had occurred. I know that he has tried to do the right thing.


I am of the opinion that the supervisors acted hastily.

Lopez has been offered his old job back, at $8.25 an hour, but has refused the offer. The distressed swimmer recovered.

H/T: CNN, WPTV, Reuters, People, WPTV.

35 thoughts on “Lifeguard Fired For Saving Life Outside Contracted Area”

  1. Howdy! I know this is somewhat off-topic however I had
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  2. On this thread we could go from shooting people to corruption to the price of eggs in Denmark to the origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind to the choreographic response to the colors of the national flag to the honor killing of a wife with clean linen to the complex interactions of neurotransmitters attributable and not attributable to the brief lifetime of the god particle to the ratio of wives to bottles of wine in Utah to the painting of whales on the walls of a bus station and STILL not understand the meticulous apportionment of residual infant rage that motivates someone to come up with an arithmetic of blame like that one!

  3. “Pravda” is Russky for “truth” and is related to our word “proof.”

  4. only here in Pravda online can we go from a discussion about a life guard to…how much he makes and how difficult it would be for him to live on what he makes and how Obama needs to give him more money so he can live life better.

    Lenin would be very proud.

    1. ME,

      If you knew 10 times what you think you already know about communism you would still know nothing. That is my assessment made on your remarks calling this site Pravda, therefore alluding it to be at all communist. You are either a trollbot, or an idiot, which is actually a charitable assessment.

  5. That’s what you get for privatizing these kinds of services. Here in Australia, all lifeguards are volunteers.

  6. Jude 1 said:

    ” why are we putting the safety of the public in the hands of an 8.25 an hour job?”

    Jude –

    Oh, in hundreds of niches across this county, we’re putting public safety in the hands of folks who earn a whole lot less than minimum wage.*

    There are literally thousands of totally UNPAID rescue volunteers, and even more unpaid firefighters.

    Some of the finest rescue pros I’ve ever met average about $1 an hour, over the course of the year. Not only that, their personally-purchased equipment sets them back thousands.

    In the world of rescue – as in quite a few other niches, certainly – what one gets paid has absolutely nothing to do with the works’ “value” to society.

    Neither does it have any relationship to what the public believes somebody might be worth.

    What shows up on your paycheck, rather, is directly proportionate to how easy it is to replace you, if you leave.

    And with regards to this particular subject – Ellis & Associates lifeguards – I’ve seen their applications eeach summer – stacked half-way to the ceiling.

    Which goes a long way toward explaining why rookie pilots for UPS, frequently can expect to sock away a nebulous $75 a day.

    * e pluribus unum:

  7. NPR had a good piece today regarding minimum wage. The minimum wage in 1967 is equivalent to 10.25 in today’s money. In other words, one could actually live (somewhat) on that kind of wage. Today, if one makes minimum wage on a full time job, they conveniently fall outside of every major government program- they don’t qualify for medicaid, food stamps, or anything else (if they’re single). The Obamacare act would help with subsidizing premiums on health insurance, except that the payments are re-imbursements, instead of direct assistance. In other words, no one who makes minimum wage to around 12 dollars per hour can afford the out of pocket expense for even the bronze level premiums. That’s a huge gap in Obamacare, by the way. And those people would then be required to pay an additional tax at the end of the year, for being required to buy something they can’t afford in the first place.

    So if you make minimum wage, quit your job halfway through the year. You’ll end up ahead in benefits.

  8. The life-rescue is the universal metaphor for help, and for community. This thread sent me into a long meditation (Oh Damn it shouldn’t have) about this, because my father (who was a certified life-saver although he did not work at that since the summers of his college years at Rutgers in NJ) taught me about rescue, although I never tried to qualify. Strangely, I had never, back then (we’re talking the 1950s) heard about the ideas of the “good samaritan law” and exclusions to malpractice laws and blah blah blah. We thought, for some unknown reason, that if someone was in trouble and you knew how to fix it, you were obligated to jump in. Only if you did NOT know how to fix it were you “off the hook” and therefore, any dog who was Lassie had to save whoever needed saving; only dogs who were silly blind “Cubby” could run for shelter.

    The next time I thought deeply about “rescue” was when I had a (volunteer) job reading and abstracting all the amicus curiae briefs that had been filed in the Baby M case in New Jersey. If I remember correctly there were about two dozen of them. ONE of them was filed by some organization that had ministered to mothers who had given up babies for adoption. See, back in the 1980s, it was still somewhat a problem for a woman to have a child out of wedlock in some places here, and thus, there were lots of young women giving up their babies for adoption without having to have the state take the babies away from them by force of law. Then they had various psychological responses and reactions after their babies had been adopted and they had recovered from childbirth. One persistent psychological sequela [is that the correct singular?] was a “rescue fantasy” wherein they would essentially daydream about getting their baby back. I deliberately kept myself from thinking about that.

    You wonder what runs through somebody’s mind when the moment occurs: There’s someone flailing and screaming; what do I do? I have had it happen to me (not swimmers, mind you, just situations of sudden danger on land) exactly twice in 65 years. When I went back afterwards to try to figure out what I was thinking, guess what I was thinking?


    Couldn’t, going back through my mind, find or reconstruct a single thought! I have no idea what propelled me in either case. About a half minute after I was in action, I was thinking, and I was thinking pretty well in both cases, and in both cases, did not have any feelings of fear or doubt until the entire situation was resolved and I was safe and calm (at which time I thought, “OMG WHAT DID I JUST DO?”).

    If you train a guy to rescue swimmers in distress, and he sees a swimmer in distress, how do you train that guy to NOT RESPOND? Idiotic.

    Now here’s a funny story to break up the tension:

    A film crew was shooting a scene for a movie in which a trained dolphin saves a guy who falls off a boat and can’t swim. So they have the actor in his get-up and they run the scene and film it and the dolphin is there on cue and the guy gets punched and falls off the boat and the dolphin zooms in and rescues him and they finish filming the scene. THEN they discover that the camera guy had something wrong on the equipment and the whole thing was wasted, so they get the guy back into dry costumes and do the scene again to shoot it right. But they have no way to explain this to the dolphin. So the guy gets dumped into the water again and this time, the dolphin is pissed, and he [apparently] thinks, “This is ridiculous; I just pulled him out, the idiot, I better teach him a lesson,” so he beats the guy up. I loved that story.

  9. bettykath: As a practicing ICU, CCU, ER, RN for 15 years, I can vouch for what Patrick says (remember the discussion about the asthma inhaler?)…what’s right and common sense generally have nothing to do with the case.

    feemeister: The reason there was no mention of the lifeguard who should have been covering the zone was because the situation happened in a ‘swim at your own risk’ area where there was no lifeguard.

    I congratulate Mr. Lopez for doing what was right, and the other three lifeguards who had the cojones to stand up for and with him.

  10. Have any of these companies read Gardner v. Loomis Armored Inc? They might find this to be a real eye opener for them.

  11. Malisha,you are so right, and unfortunately threat of publicity is sometimes the only way to compel people to act as they should have, regardless. This is one good thing to come out of the instant technology world, but certain institutions (schools, for instance) are not allowing electronic devices to enter their premises; how very convenient for them.

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