If you watched TV news on Sept. 13, you probably saw video of a group of citizens rescuing a motorcyclist who was trapped under a car while both vehicles burned. TV news anchors gushed about the heroism of the rescuers. Does this send the wrong message to would-be untrained rescuers?
Brandon Wright was riding his motorcycle on U.S. Highway 89 in Logan, UT, on Sept. 12, when a car pulled out of a parking lot in front of him.
Wright intentionally grounded his bike to avoid getting hit, but it went up in flames and he slid underneath the car, which was also on fire.
A worker from a nearby construction site tried by himself to lift the car. Then he was joined by four others, and finally, about a dozen people managed to lift the two-ton car while a construction worker pulled Wright out from underneath the vehicle.
Wright is hospitalized in critical but stable condition.
One rescuer who talked to a local TV station said the situation was “kind of dangerous,” and he thought the car was close to exploding before nearby workers doused the flames with two fire extinguishers.
The rescuers “did a great job,” according to Logan’s assistant police chief, Jeff Curtis. “I’m impressed they would risk their own safety to lift the car up and get the individual out from underneath it.”
An MSNBC article stated, “In comic books, superheroes are often depicted as lone wolves, but in a horrifying car-motorcycle crash in Logan, Utah on Monday, heroes came in bunches.”
Today show anchor Matt Lauer said, “We use the word hero too often; not in this particular case.”
Exclamations from anchors on at least two other national morning news shows were similar in their high praise for the citizen rescuers.
We’d all do the same thing, but …
While thinking about this story, I recalled a memory from my childhood.
My parents would often take me swimming at a lake while I was growing up. There was a dock with a diving board, but sometimes no lifeguard.
One day, my mom took me swimming in the lake, and other kids were there, too. One of them looked at my mother and asked her, “Are you the lifeguard?”
She replied, “No, but if you got in trouble, I’d try to save you.”
In fact, my mom had taken lifeguard courses in college. However, this was a couple of decades after that.
Whether or not she’d taken those lifeguard courses, since she was an adult and knew how to swim, her answer to the question would probably have been the same. It’s human nature to want to help someone in trouble.
As the assistant police chief noted, the rescuers of the man trapped under the burning vehicles “did a great job,” but they also “risk[ed] their own safety.” The police are trying to identify the rescuers so they can be acknowledged. So we haven’t heard the last about this story. There will be more coverage when the rescuers are identified.
What do you think about this type of news coverage of rescues performed by untrained citizens? Would you use this story of the rider saved from the burning vehicles as a teachable moment in a safety meeting for workers? Let us know what you think in the comments.