I’m so disturbed, on so many levels I feel like I’m about to crawl out of my skin. I’m as angry as I am sad as I am scared by this story. I am disgusted, not only by the nurse involved, but also by the administrators who wrote this policy, and the media covering the story.
87-year-old Lorraine Bayless collapsed at Glenwood Gardens senior living facility in Bakersfield, California. A nurse named Colleen called 911 and was instructed by the dispatcher, Tracey Halvorson, to perform CPR to save the woman’s life, but Colleen replied that it was against their policy and she couldn’t do it, so she watched Lorraine die.
Audio of the 911 call has been released which is chilling to the bone, and mainstream coverage of the story is almost as terrifying.
Let me begin by saying how truly sorry I am for the family’s loss. Maybe this has impacted me so deeply because my own grandmother was recently admitted into an assisted living facility. I can’t imagine losing a family member in such a shocking display of callous indifference from a medical professional.
There are no words. You have to hear it for yourself. Here are the news videos I found with the best audio:
Let’s start with the media. For some reason ABC News decided to go with “allegedly” in their headline, as in “Nurse Allegedly Refuses Woman, 87, CPR.” It’s not alleged. It’s a recording, in Colleen’s own voice, repeatedly refusing, in their own news broadcast. Second, the reporter on site, Abbie Boudreau, opens with “This recorded 911 call has many people questioning why company policy seemed to trump saving the life of a dying woman.” Frankly, I don’t care what the company policy is. I’m questioning how a medical professional, who has taken an oath to do no harm, obeys this policy when a human life hangs in the balance. How does someone live with themselves sitting back and watching someone die when they are trained to provide life saving emergency medical assistance that is simple enough to explain over the phone. And finally, there’s the legal analyst, Dan Abrams, there to explain that Colleen, and the Glenwood Gardens staff, were within their legal rights to sit and watch Lorraine die. He said, “If she were to have done something, she would have been violating the companies policy, and I think that’s where they’ve got to focus. Was the company policy the right one?”
Everyone at every level of media coverage is doing their damnedest to abstract the issue away from the level of individual personal responsibility. The closest we get to any discussion of a moral question is the Bakersfield Fire Battalion Chief, Anthony Galagaza saying, “I can’t comment on people’s moral choices.” So, we can acknowledge it’s a moral issue. We just can’t say anything about it.
All I see here are obedient robots. The nurse, the administrators, the media, the legal analyst and inexplicably even the victim’s family all act as if there is no moral question as long as protocol is followed. It’s like some kind of mental disorder created by a culture of Statism. Like the firefighters who watched a man drown last year because they weren’t certified for water rescue, or the countless teachers who have suspended grade school children for making gun gestures with their finger, or eating a piece of toast into the shape of a pistol under some idiotic zero tolerance policy.
This is a statement released from the Executive Director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer (fitting name):
“In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community, our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives. That is the protocol we followed. As with any incident involving a resident, we will conduct a thorough internal review of this matter.”
As Michael W. Dean and Neema Vedadi of Freedom Feens are so fond of saying, “State speech is hate speech.” That is State speech coming from the private sector, to whatever extent we can still call medicine the private sector.
The most disturbing part of the 911 call itself, aside from Colleen sounding exactly like the typical DMV sociocrat, is how familiar Tracy the dispatcher sounds with this problem. It’s as if she’s had to deal with this response before. She says, “I understand if your facility is not willing to do (CPR). Give the phone to a passerby or a stranger and I will instruct them… EMS takes the liability for this Colleen. I’m happy to help you. This is the EMS protocol.”
It was that line about taking the liability that really turned my guts upside down, because anyone who knows the Stanley Milgram Experiment knows that that is the phrase which allowed otherwise psychologically healthy individuals to electrocute complete strangers to death in numbers that shocked the medical establishment.
In the Milgram Experiment participants were divided into “teachers” and “learners.” The teachers were instructed to read questions to the learners and if they answered incorrectly to shock them with ever increasing voltage. What they didn’t know was that the learners were part of the experiment, the shocks were fake, and the teachers were the subjects of the experiment. Despite screams of pain, complaints of heart conditions, and ultimately eerie silence from the learners, 65% of the teachers administered doses of electricity they knew to be lethal simply because an authority figure told them they took the liability.
Whether Tracy understood it explicitly or intuitively, she recognized that Colleen was part of the 65% willing murder rather than disobey. She recognized that she was not engaged in a rational or moral discussion with Colleen, but in a clash of authority with Colleen’s boss. So she immediately made the only argument from authority she had. “We take liability. This is our protocol.” And immediately Colleen begins looking for her boss, and telling people she’s not going to make the call. Colleen immediately tries to avoid taking responsibility.
Colleen was trapped between two conflicting orders from two conflicting authorities, and rather than taking the initiative, and doing the right thing, she did what any robot does when given contradictory commands. She froze. Complete system failure.
“Just following orders” isn’t just for soldiers anymore. We are producing a society where private individuals no longer have the confidence, or the moral fortitude to make common sense decisions for themselves. For them obedience to authority is the only virtue, even if that authority is just company policy, set by lawyers to protect them from legal liability in the State courts.
The good news is there’s something we can do. As soon as I heard this audio I jumped on my Satoshi client and instantly shot Fr33 AID 6 Bitcoin. Fr33 AID is a mutual aid organization run by Voluntaryists to provide medical services at liberty oriented events. One of their primary missions to teach people how to properly perform life saving CPR.
I feel better knowing someone out there has made it their mission to not only teach people how to perform CPR correctly, but to promote the self confidence necessary to actually act on that knowledge. I donate in the hopes that when I’m old enough to be in one of those facilities there will be Volunaryists running the joint, and if they aren’t at least I’ll have the knowledge and the drive to push the robot out of the way and break policy. Because if Colleen is any indication, as the State takes over more and more of the medical industry, having medical professionals around won’t matter if saving your life is against protocol.