I am sorry to tell you that we are not coming. I am a San Diego Lifeguard Sergeant. We have a River Rescue Team that is nationally recognized. Our guards spent weeks rescuing people during hurricane Katrina. We saw this storm approaching Thursday and packed our bags. The team hooked up the taxpayer funded CAL-OES trailer and boats that have sat in storage for this type of event. They waited for the call to go that would surely come quickly. It did not.
On Saturday, our team was informed to unpack and take the boats over to the Fire Department. They will go. Our team stayed packed and readied more boats and asked to go. Sunday came and we listened to your pleas for help; still we are not sent. Today some guards and I asked for time off so that we could drive our own boats and trucks on our own time. We planned to be there by 3 p.m. Tuesday. This was in response to your cries for anyone with a boat. We were denied vacation to come help you. The Coast Guard reports through CNN that there are thousands in need and the worst is yet to come, still, we sit here.
We have plenty of staff to send, but we are blocked.
As professional lifeguards, we are saddened that there are moms, grandmothers and children that we could rescue if we were only allowed to go help. We are sickened that Chief Brian Fennessy has blocked our response. Former San Diego Fire Deputy Chief Doug Nakama is now Chief of Special Operations, OES for Governor Brown. Nakama knows that we have the ability and numerous resources. He knows that we are self-sustained and could leave with an hours notice. He does not send us. It is with heavy hearts that we send this apology. We can only hope that if our families were in need, someone would come.
-Ed Harris, San Diego Lifeguards