UPDATE: West Seattle rescue response at Seacrest

(WSB photo of fireboat that was part of the big but short-lived response)

3:57 PM: A Seattle Fire Department rescue response is on the way to Seacrest Park, where there’s a report that a diver “did not surface.” More to come.

4:06 PM: Scanner traffic indicates rescuers believe the diver reported missing is actually OK after having surfaced separately from the rest of his group.

4:19 PM: Our crew at Seacrest has confirmed that all is well and responding crews are being dismissed.

20 Replies to "UPDATE: West Seattle rescue response at Seacrest"

  • Betsy Hoffmeister February 7, 2018 (4:03 pm)

    I’m at kitty harbor and every rescue vehicle in the whole area has responded… Including multiple book and ladder trucks. It’s it possible there’s more going on that just one diver? I’ve counted 14 vehicles so far. 

    • WSB February 7, 2018 (4:14 pm)

      No, that’s the standard initial response for something like this. One person was reported missing, then turned up out of the water, separated from his group.

  • Alki Resident February 7, 2018 (4:10 pm)

    He’s perfectly fine thank God, just separated from friends. 

  • Mike February 7, 2018 (4:21 pm)

    Thank goodness the diver is alright.  I’ve commented on Fire Dept over-response before, and I’ll do it again.  According to the 911 log, 21 separate SFD units were despatched to this incident.  That includes at least 3 fireboats, and at least 3 medic units.  This is for a report of one diver missing.  This number of units is ridiculous, and poses an organizational challenge all by itself.  Please don’t remind me that I might feel differently if I was the diver and in trouble.  That has got nothing to do with this.  It has everything to do with SFD statistics and budget.   Every one of these units has now chalked up another dispatch for the annual report, and for budget arguments with the Mayor and Council.  And every one of these units was not available for dispatch if needed elsewhere.  Crazy.  

    • WSB February 7, 2018 (4:35 pm)

      It’s more complex than that. Though every unit dispatched at any point shows as “green” on Real-Time 911 until the ENTIRE dispatch – every single unit gone back in service – is closed, that does NOT mean those units even all arrived at the scene.

      The incident-specific log shows that more accurately:
      http://www2.seattle.gov/fire/IncidentSearch/incidentDetail.asp?ID=F180013825

      Example: Five of the units were put back in service without ever having arrived at the scene.
      Another five units were assigned to the event for only 15-17 minutes total from the moment of dispatch.
      (Look at the link and see “in-service” which is when they were officially off the call.)

      • Mike February 7, 2018 (6:34 pm)

        Yeah, but all of those units were despatched.  I am familiar with the dispatch process.  This kind of response is really ridiculous.  It would be appropriate if the ferry was in trouble, or there were a major alarm at a waterfront business.  But for a missing diver!  

      • Betsy Hoffmeister February 7, 2018 (9:15 pm)

        Thanks for the explanation and thank goodness they are OK. As a very inexperienced diver, that sounds like my worst nightmare. 

    • Lamont February 7, 2018 (4:41 pm)

      I suspect the issue is more that in the vast majority of callouts the victim is Right There.  They’re in the vehicle, or lying on the sidewalk or whatever.  When its a water rescue callout like this the victim needs to be actively searched for.  And since there may be multiple victims and they need to assume that even if they think they’ve located the victims there may be additional victims in the water and need to spot them if they surface, or have someone find them on shore.  If they haven’t located the victim(s) they probably need more eyeballs on shore to scan for any signs of them.  And time will be of the essence, since if a body pops up and they actually can get to them before the 10 minute window is up they could successfully get the victim going again without lasting brain trauma.  But if the body washes around in the surf down the beach for 10 minutes before anyone spots them, then the outcome will be much worse. 

      • WSB February 7, 2018 (4:53 pm)

        The initial report, as broadcast on SFD frequencies, was in fact that the diver had not been seen for 10 minutes.

        • Lamont February 7, 2018 (5:09 pm)

          Doesn’t necessarily mean that they haven’t been breathing for 10 minutes though.  Could have been swimming around looking for their diver partners until they eventually run out of gas.  The responders don’t know what is happening underwater.

          (Although typically these incidents are either outcomes like this where it was just separation and nobody got hurt or else its a body recovery)

    • Kel February 7, 2018 (6:26 pm)

      I was the first on the scene to a person trying to jump off the low bridge last summer. I Called 911 for help…  7 police cars with 2 officer EACH eventually showed up. And stayed there for hours while one officer negotiated with the man trying to jump. The other 13 officers stood around watching, chatting with each other, and laughing. The over response, coupled with the callousness of the majority of these officers was appalling. On the other hand, I’ve called 911 for help because there was someone shooting up on the back porch of my job and no officers showed up. I guess they were all responding to one incident elsewhere. 

  • Xana La Fuente February 7, 2018 (4:56 pm)

    Still pretty ridiculous. Isn’t that what all this training that people go through is for to make sure they stick to the group? 

    • Alki resident February 7, 2018 (5:29 pm)

      Your comment is obsured. The most experienced divers can become separated. 

  • ProudPapa February 7, 2018 (5:00 pm)

    Yeah for the diver being ok! Now I hope Uno didn’t get scared away with the massive response. I was just up the street and it sounded like the helicopter was going to hit my house.

    • WSB February 7, 2018 (5:09 pm)

      The helicopter was a TV station, not part of the response, since you mention it. (Channel 7 per our crew’s observation. They don’t show up on flight tracker.)

  • JB February 7, 2018 (8:46 pm)

    Here to Serve

    The mission of the Seattle Fire Department is to save lives and protect property through emergency medical service, fire and rescue response and fire prevention. We respond immediately when any member of our community needs help with professional, effective and compassionate service.

    The Seattle Fire Department: a national leader in responding to and preventing emergencies with a commitment to excellence and teamwork.

    I don’t know what Mike’s employment is but this is the mission of the Seattle Fire Department. I hate to burst his bubble but responding to a 911 call has absolutely nothing to do with budgets and arguing with the Mayors office. It has everything to do with saving lives and property. I suspect that if the fire department had their druthers they would prefer to not have to respond to save a life or put out a fire because that means someone’s life has been drastically altered by a 911 call. In a perfect world fire dispatchers would know exactly what the responding firefighters would encounter upon arriving on scene and send only the number of units to fulfill their mission. But since there are no perfect world 911 calls they send for the worst and scale back as real time, on scene, information becomes known. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that decades of training and experience has brought the fire department to do things the way they do because it gives them the best chance to accomplish their mission.

  • JanS February 7, 2018 (9:10 pm)

    so, Mike….we should send three units, have it be a true catastrophe,
    and then have to wait for more help? Is that what you’re saying? Do you
    work with SFD, SPD, etc? You say you know all about dispatch. Lets have
    your expertise on this. How many units and which ones should have been
    sent, in your opinion? Or should it be a matter of better safe than
    sorry…instead of having someone perish because you didn’t sent enough help
    initially? They don’t get there magically when you need them…they have
    to deal with traffic like the rest of us. I respectfully disagree with
    you. Tax dollars or a life…which one weighs more than the other? And
    yes, if it was you or one of your loved ones, I think you’d sing a
    different tune if enough units weren’t sent for them or you.

  • blbl February 8, 2018 (10:18 am)

     It’s not about a life versus tax dollars.  It’s about a reasonable response to a 911 call and appropriate allocation of limited resources.  I agree with Mike that 21 units for a missing diver is not a reasonable response. 

    • Lamont February 8, 2018 (11:13 am)

      In hindsight we know that this was just one missing diver.

      The fire department can’t actually trust the person reporting the information to 911 since “my friend went diving and hasn’t come back” can easily become “yeah, he went out with an instructor and two other students” 10 minutes later after more questioning and now a single victim has turned into 4 victims.

      And if only 5 people turn up on shore to a report of a single victim and it turns out to be a multiple victim situation and one of them is found a half hour later floating in the rip raff down the block around a corner it would look very bad on the FD.  And if it was a boating accident and the additional fatality is a child you all would be here positively losing.  your.  effin.  minds.  about how incompetent the FD was and why they couldn’t treat these incidents more seriously.

      All these policies are based about the possible worst-case, not the best-case that occured in this situation.

  • John February 8, 2018 (12:07 pm)

    I was a volunteer firefighter for nearly 30 years. And while never involved with a marine response unit, and therefore not knowledgeable enough to speak for Seattle Fire, Coast Guard, or the ferry system, I can say this: It is much better to tone out enough resources that you might need and then later turn them back if you find you don’t need them than it is to get on scene and find out that you need additional units. It has been my experience that fire departments are constantly adjusting run cards to ensure that they are dispatching a sensible number of units for the initial response based upon the type of situation being described by the reporting party.

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