No One Gets Left Behind

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

They're still calling the search for those six miners trapped in Utah a rescue effort, but it's been more than three weeks now since the collapse and hope is all but gone of finding the men alive. Rescue workers continue to work on a seventh hole that would let them drop a camera into the mine, but drilling on a bigger, horizontal tunnel stopped on August 16th, after three rescue workers were killed in another collapse. The families, and many of the other miners hold out hope of finding the men. At the very least, they want to bring the bodies out of the mine for a proper memorial. You see similar feelings in other dangerous jobs... Firefighters never leave someone behind, and Marines are well-known for doing whatever it takes to bring their own back home. That's the focus of our show today... The painful transition from rescue to recovery, and why we search. If we have any marines, or firefighters, or miners, or any other job with a firm belief that no one gets left behind, tell us about it. How important is that idea to your ability to do that job?

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OUR Iraq dilemma is similar to the dilemma faced last Friday afternoon (8/17/07) by the rescue managers in the Utah mine accident (and also by the rescuers and their families). AS OF that Friday afternoon the rescue operation had suffered 3 deaths and 6 injuries in the ranks of the would-be rescue crew. THE rescuers were trying to reach 6 trapped miners whose condition is unknown. IF THESE miners were already dead then the rescue operation has increased the death toll by 50%. THEY were now at or approaching the time limit beyond which no trapped miner had ever been rescued alive. FOR the rescuers and their families it was now a matter of how many more lives were they willing to risk in order to demonstrate solidarity (and keep faith) with the trapped miners and their families. IN SHORT it was a very clear, but poignant cost/benefit equation. THE same is true for Iraq but the millions of details of the war blind us to the very simple cost/benefit analysis that is required. IRAQIS are trapped in the rubble of their collapsed nation. WE ARE now up against a time limit beyond which no nation as divided as Iraq is has ever been rescued intact without a civil war. WHAT muddles the Iraq War cost/benefit analysis is that we won't have the wake-up call of a 50% increase in the death toll in a very short period of time. LIKE the proverbial frog in the slowly heating pot of water we haven't been shocked, as the miners' families were, into full awareness of how many more lives we could lose in an effort to keep faith with the heroes already wasted in the Iraq War.

Sent by Ben Andrews | 3:35 PM | 8-29-2007

I beileve a very important difference between the military and the fire service was overlooked in your discussion. I'm a fire captain with 20 years of experience in the fire service. When a firefighter goes down in a burning building his brother and sister firefighters will do every thing they can to get him or her out alive but ultimately the commander of the fire incident must make to the call as to when a rescue is impossible and sending resucue crews into the building will be sacrificing lives needlessly. This command order for all recuse crews to evacuate the building may come when trapped firefighters are stilll alive. This is an excrutiating decision I hope I as a company officer never have to make. However, if I ever have to make that call I will. We, in the fire service are paid to risk our lives and on rare occasions to give our lives but never to throw our lives away. If the order is given to pull out of the structure we will. We will suffer, we will grieve and when it's safe, we will be allowed to return for our dead. The difference between we in the fire service and those brave men and women in the military is we will not be ordered to or permitted to sacrifice our lives for others, certain to die or for body recovery.

Sent by Rich | 3:51 PM | 8-29-2007

Rich:
EXCELLENT COMMENT!

Sent by Ben Andrews | 2:40 PM | 9-5-2007