If someone was in a life-threatening situation and it was your job to save lives, you would act immediately, right? You would not think about the rules your company has regarding your actions, nor would you think about imaginary boundaries that restrict where you are allowed to save a person's life. It would just be the instincts of a good employee -- and a good Samaritan.
While this may sound like a somewhat random set of circumstances for a job, a young lifeguard faced this very situation recently. He saved someone's life and it led to his termination.
Don't think about that last sentence too hard -- you'll get a headache just trying to make sense of it.
Here's what happened: a man was drowning at a Florida beach. He was outside the protected swimming zone by an estimated 1,500 feet. The 21-year-old lifeguard near the zone was alerted to the man's predicament and leapt into action, swimming out and bringing the man ashore. His face was blue and he was struggling to breathe. But, thanks to the lifeguard's quick thinking, the man survived and recovered at a local hospital.
The 21-year-old was fired "basically on the spot," according to a fellow lifeguard who later quit in protest, because by leaving the zone, the lifeguard created a liability situation for the company that is contracted to provide lifeguard services for the beach.
Sure, there could be a case made that, by the letter of the company's policy, the lifeguard was in the wrong. But that is clearly an outrageous notion. In fact, the 21-year-old was quite responsible during the stressful event, getting a fellow lifeguard to cover his protected area as he ventured off to save the drowning man.
Source: CNN, "Florida lifeguard says he's been offered his job back," John Zarrella and Lateef Mungin, July 6, 2012