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Yesterday was a crazy stormy day on Lake Erie at Port Stanley Ontario. A brisk southwest wind had stirred up crashing waves, rip currents and undertow.. Normally life guards are present on their perches to protect the public. They post a red flag to signify that conditions are too dangerous for swimming. Yesterday there was no red flag, no flag at all and no life guards.

You would be forgiven for thinking that those kite surfing or jumping the waves yesterday were stupid people who don’t deserve protection. The beach people who flock here every summer are younger, more ethnically diverse compared to the bureaucrats who decreed that life guards should not risk their own lives on their behalf.

But young people’ think they are invulnerable thanks to brains that aren’t quite developed, as many parents will testify. People whose first language isn’t English may not try to take in the signage that warns about the treachery below the water that could sweep them out into the lake. Sometimes we need to be protected from ourselves.

Apparently a couple of years ago the life guards fell under the authority of our Fire Department. I called Central Elgin and asked why there were no guards on duty on such a day as yesterday. A gentleman from Central Elgin Fire returned my call and explained that the waves were too big for the lifeguards .and that he would not deploy them in such weather. Besides they would not be available after their season ended in two weeks anyway..

Stupidity and foolishness are everywhere. We are all guilty.. Several years ago here, a man tried to thaw out his pipes underneath his cottage with a blow torch and burnt it down! Firefighters risked their lives, as they always do at a fire, to try to save it. They were not held back because fires are dangerous.

Had the foolish man been trapped in the blaze the firemen would have tried to get him out. This is what they are trained to do. This is what they signed up for. This is why firemen, police, and life guards have our respect. They are willing to put their lives on the line for us.

During 9/11 firemen knowingly ran into the Twin Towers to lead people out.. Then the buildings collapsed on them.making them instant heroes. For years after, ordinary people walked around wearing replica New York Fire Department shirts in tribute.

Those whom they rescued should be grateful that the Central Elgin Fire Department weren’t calling the shots on that day.

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