Florida Lifeguard Fired for Saving a Life
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Tomas Lopez saved the life of a drowning man - but instead of accolades, the Florida lifeguard got a pink slip.
Why? Because he left the section of the beach that his company is paid to patrol.
"The reason I was fired is just ridiculous," Lopez told CNN. "It is a ridiculous rule, really. What was I supposed to do? Just let the guy drown?"
Jeff Ellis Management, the Orlando-based company for which Lopez worked, says that Lopez broke a company rule and that his actions could have put the beachgoers in his section in jeopardy.
The incident took place on Monday at Hallandale Beach in southern Florida. After a beachgoer alerted Lopez that a man was in trouble. The swimmer was some 1,500 feet outside the company's protection zone, where posted signs warn that visitors swim at their own risk.
By the time he reached the man, other beachgoers had pulled him out of the water. "I put him in the recovery position, which we are trained to do, and I had a nurse come and help me,” Lopez told MSNBC.
The paramedics arrived and took the man to the hospital. He survived and was in good condition as of Thursday.
Lopez was asked to fill out an incident report and was then fired. Company supervisor Susan Ellis told WPTV that Lopez was let go for violating company policy.
"We have liability issues and can't go out of the protected area," she said. "What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do."
In the aftermath, at least two other lifeguards have quit in protest.