Update to article below: Tomas Lopez, not surprisingly, has been offered his lifeguard job back by Jeff Ellis Management. He told CNN on Thursday night that he does not want it back! "It's another chapter in my life closed and I am just going to continue to get my schooling finished and get on with my career," Lopez said. Jeff Ellis said, "Clearly he should not have been terminated for what has occurred. I know that he has tried to do the right thing." Three other lifeguards with the company quit in protest over the firing and two others were fired after saying that they would have done the same thing. Lifeguard Travis Madris told CNN that "they told us we were liabilities and that we had to be let go." Jeff Ellis told CNN that the company has offeed to take back those that were let go. The last word goes to Tomas Lopez. "I have no doubts I did the right thing. I believe I did what was right, and if someone needs your help, you're going to go help them regardless if you're a lifeguard or not."
On Monday, twenty-one year old Tomas Lopez was a lifeguard at Hallandale Beach in south Florida. On Monday, Tomas Lopez saved a man's life. On Monday, Tomas Lopez was fired from his job as a lifeguard. Strange? Here's his story.
A person on the beach ran to tell the lifeguard that he saw a man in the water who was in trouble. Without hesitation, Lopez sprinted into the water and swam out to the man who was clearly struggling. "He was having a lot of trouble breathing," Tomas said. The lifeguard brought the man ashore and paramedics whisked him to the hospital where he was admitted to the intensive care unit.
As is usually the case in these types of situations, Tomas was told by his supervisor, Susan Ellis, to fill out an incident report. "At that point I knew I was going to be fired. I knew I had broken the rule," the lifeguard said. Hold on a minute! What rule? Well, the company, Jeff Ellis Management, has a rule that the lifeguard cannot go out of the company's "protection zone"...at which point swimmers are out there at their own risk. There are signs posted to that effect. Lopez went on to say, "In those cases we are supposed to call 911 and hope they get there in time." The company supervisor said that the lifeguard was fired for violating company policy. "What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do." Yes, he saved a man's life and he lost his job because of it.
Executives of Jeff Ellis Management, the company that fired Lopez, is now reviewing whether or not the firing was justified. "If we find our actions on the part of the leadership team were inappropriate, we will rectify it based upon the information that comes forward."
Two other lifeguards have quit their jobs to protest the firing. Jeff Ellis says, "we are not a fire-rescue operation. We are strictly a lifeguard operation. We limit what we do to the protected swimming zones that we've agreed to service." Well, we can think of one man who is probably happy that one lifeguard took it upon himself to bend the rules. On the bright side, the lifeguard's phone has been ringiug off the hook. I'm pretty sure that Tomas Lopez won't be out of work for very long.
News Sources: www.wptv.com and www.cnn.com