Nearly two months after a man drowned in a Seattle hotel pool, we’re learning what went wrong with the fire department’s response. During the rescue, no first responders went into the pool to search for the man and the dive team was called off the rescue within three minutes of firefighters arriving on scene.
The hotel pool at the Quality Inn and Suites off John Street near the Space Needle was reportedly very murky.
The drowning victim was Tesfaye Deboch, 27, a PhD student at Washington State University who was from Ethiopia.
Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean said that, in hindsight, mistakes were made, but that firefighters made the right call at the time based on what they saw.
“They believed they were able to see in the pool, they dredged the pool with their poles and everything, they did not feel anything,” said Chief Dean.
The report cites a study that finds that sometimes light can play trick on rescuers eyes and hide bodies at the bottom of pools.
However, the report also outlines a number of mistakes made during the rescue:
- Firefighters and the dive team were not on the same radio channel, which creates a potential lapse in communication.
- Firefighters tried using a Thermal Imaging Camera to detect a body in the pool, but did not have the proper training so that such a device was useless in that situation.
- Firefighters were not properly trained on water rescue protocol as it calls for a Dive Team to come regardless of whether a victim is visible from the surface -- the report said Seattle firefighters aren’t trained at all for pool rescues.
You can read the report in its entirety here.
The department’s training division will now review recommendations and report back to the chief, who will determine if any changes will be made. No timeline was given for that process.