Councilman too far out on a limb

If an accident happens and medical attention is needed, it is an emergency — no matter what the language.

On April 12, a man who was attempting to cut down a limb became pinned between a tree and the ladder he was using on King Street in Dunkirk. City firefighters responded to the scene and were able to help get him medical attention.

That was not good enough, however.

At a recent committee meeting this month, Councilman Adelino Gonzalez Jr. attempted to make the case that a language barrier added to the problem. The man pinned by the tree only spoke Spanish, thus he could not communicate effectively with firefighters, who spoke English.

“He said he could have gotten out of there in 15 minutes, if they’d only listened to him telling them, ‘Just pull the ladder out of the way so I can ease myself out,'” Gonzalez said. “They said they couldn’t do it. Somebody came and tried to explain to them, in English, what he was saying. They were told to step away because they had everything under control.”

As usual, a person in distress — and sometimes the family — is not always thinking clearly in a crisis. The firefighters did what any other rescue crew would do. Most importantly, they made sure the person who put himself in the risky position was as safe as could be.

“We have to do something … assign somebody who speaks (Spanish) before somebody gets hurt,” Gonzalez said dramatically.

For the record, the man hurt was flown by Starflight to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo. This wasn’t just a minor scrape.

Yes, the man was injured, but it had nothing to do with what language was being spoken. The city department showed up quickly. It did its job.

Next time, councilman, just leave the comments to two simple words: thank you.


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