Rescue workers shouldn’t be put at risk

Recently introduced bills in the state Legislature deserve serious consideration from Michigan’s lawmakers. The legislation would allow municipalities to bill people who’ve been rescued after taking unnecessary risks during a declared state of emergency.

If enacted, perhaps the legislation will deter some foolish people who stupidly put themselves at risk – and also jeopardize the first responders attempting to rescue them. Two legislators said their bills were inspired as a response to people recently taking risks like kayaking and using jet skis on flooding rivers in the Grand Rapids area. During the flooding, rescue crews were called to rescue a kayaker who fell from his boat and clung to a tree.

We believe this bill makes sense and has the potential to prevent serious injury and save lives.

Only someone who is foolhardy would put themselves in harm’s way by enjoying a recreational activity during a hazardous situation – especially when a state of emergency has been declared. This is the type of action taken by someone with more beer than brains.

What is most disturbing is these people who lack common sense are endangering others. The first responders whose job it is to rescue them are put at unnecessary risk because of their foolish actions. Rescue workers deserve better and certainly shouldn’t have to risk life or limb in this type of situation.

If an emergency is declared – whether flooding, blizzards, tornadoes, wildfires, or any other calamity – its the responsibility of each citizen to take measures to insure their safety, not endanger themselves or others.

Perhaps paying the hefty fee of rescue costs would be a deterrent to those who would put themselves and others in danger unnecessarily.

The state Legislature will not likely take up these issues until the fall. If this legislation prevents even one serious injury or loss of life, though, it is a goal worth pursuing.