WorkSafeBC Report into death of SAR Volunteer

Last night I read the 45 page WorkSafeBC report into the death of BC SAR volunteer Sheilah Sweatman, who drowned on June 29th, 2011.

I’m not going to write about what I read in the report.

I’m not going to write about it, not because it was hard to read (it was), or that I don’t have an opinion (I do), but mostly because I wasn’t there. The experts were there, and have done quite a bit of analysis and I don’t think I am in a position where I can can actually add anything to the analysis, at least nothing useful and not via this blog.

I’m not going to write about it because the media is going to butcher this story regardless of what I write, and I’m powerless to stop that. The SAR team, her family, and the other people directly related to this story are going to have to go through the indignity of reading and watching reporters mess this up for the next week or so because the inquest into her death is scheduled to begin (after a postponement) next week in Nelson, BC.

The media is going to mess this up because they need a headline, a narrative, an easy answer, and in the words of Farley Mowat, there are no easy answers.

As an example of what we’re going to hear, CBC has already boiled down 45 pages of detailed analysis in the WorkSafe report into the one sentence headline you can read here.

I’m not going to write about the report because, although I did not know Sheilah, and I was not present, I feel that I am too close to this story to be rational about it. There are lessons to be learned, but neither I nor any SAR member in BC is going to learn them from the media.

This part of the story that includes the WorkSafe report and the inquest are the part where we look at the tragedy and we try to learn how to prevent it from happening again.


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