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Audio: 911 calls, radio & other communications from controversial Alameda drowning released. Listen to recordings & read timeline.

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Previous coverage of this story here, here & here

The latest from Alameda, California and the drowning on May 30th of Raymond Zack where police officers and firefighters were ordered not to go into the water.


The tapes revealed a 1 hour, 15 minute effort by dispatchers to track down a boat to help rescue Zack, only to be turned down by nearby departments, including the Coast Guard, whose boat could not enter the shallow waters. A capable boat was finally found nearly an hour after the first call for help.

Throughout the incident, which began at 11:30 a.m., police and firefighters remained on the beach until a passer-by pulled Zack's body to shore at 12:30 p.m. Zack was pronounced dead a short time later at Alameda Hospital.

Officers remained on the beach because Zack was suicidal and potentially violent, police said. But they also said the 911 tapes help show their efforts to save Zack's life.

From KGO-TV:

As those 9-1-1 calls came in, at least 10 Alameda firefighters and police officers watched from the shore. The first responders never went into the water because they say they were not trained to help with water rescues.

As they stood by, newly-released dispatch logs show how other rescue workers scrambled to respond.

The Coast Guard told a dispatcher it would take 40 minutes for its boat to arrive. The Alameda County Sheriff's Department said it didn't have a boat in the water.


Comments - Add Yours

  • Anonymous

    y does a island city fire department not have training in water rescue??? or a boat of their own???

    • Taylor

      Have you not been following this story? The City took the water rescue training funds away a couple of years ago.

  • Anonymous

    Those who failed to fund the FD are to blame, not the FD or PD. As a Paramedic, sometimes you cant save someone simply because you are not trained for that particular type of rescue.I too would have stood on shore and watched a suicidal man drown. Im not a strong swimmer & certainly not trained to handle someone who is going to fight me in the water.

  • Anonymous

    budget cuts

  • Scooter

    My question why is it not PD or FD instead of a cilivian bringing in the person?  K

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  • Bill

    It sounds callous, but don't cut FD funding and expect the same level of service as before. You cut funding for water rescue, so they didn't have that capability. Call the Mayor and the City Board. Sorry, but the FD didn't make it this way.

  • Joe

    No, if you had been following the story, the city did not take the funds away for water rescue. In fact, the documents published show it has been in the budget every year and for the future year.  The budget cut rumor was spread by the union and the FD who now are not saying why they didn't recertify the FFs for water rescue.  The mayor was also bought by the union in this election.  This has been one very troubled FD for many years.
    The disturbing part of this is no one made an attempt to call out to this guy by any means to ask if he would consider help. He was not treading water, he was standing. Hypothermia is what got him after 1 hour and 15 minutes. The water was wading depth for much of the distance. Even after he became unconscious no one waded out to get his body until a woman went in.
    It is time the county takes over this FD and a private ambulance service is contracted for EMS which should have been done 10 years ago.

  • Hellsmedic

    Scene saftey! EMT's and Medics are not trained for water rescue, and no matter how many times people say ' well anyone could just go in and get them'. . it says this man was suicidal. There's a good chance he would have fought and drowned whatever medic/firefigher was goin' in to save him. Then you don't have just one DB, you have two, and an awful tragedy to boot.
    The media is quick to rush on EMS and Firefighters when something doesn't go right. Out of the thousand calls with good outcomes, they'll harp down on the one that goes wrong. EMS and Firefighting isn't just a science, there's a lot of improvising along the way. How many other people's lives have the Alemeda FD saved? Why isn't the media looking at that? Or evey other time California has burnt to the ground and those boys have rushed in to save people's asses. . .without asking anything in return.
    What a cold way to repay their service, with such scathing cristisim. Blame the real culprits: politics and Money.

  • Anonymous

    As an Emt firefighter you better be damn sure I would have gone in to get him policies and training be damned.

  • Firefighter112

    Maybe I am missing the facts here..what was he doing in the water?  Taking a leisurely swim..or intending to killing himself?   Scene safety is key and a suicide attempt in the water is the most dangerous situation..the rescuers have no control of their environment when in the water.  If this was the case, I would have done the same thing..becuase I am going home  to my wife at the end of the day.

    • dave statter

      The word from the articles is that he was feeding some swans and he had a siezure having suffered from epilepsy since he was a teen.