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I have a question for all those in favor of allowing swim at your own risk at Crystal Lake. But first an except from Jeff Goldman’s oped on the topic from this week’s TAB:

What if we could formally absolve the city of any responsibility for people swimming at their own risk by having those residents do the following: sign a waiver of responsibility to the city, take a swim test, and pay a nominal fee to cover administrative costs?

So here’s my question: Let’s say the city adopts Goldman’s proposal,  comes up with legally sound waivers and clearly posts signs saying that swimmers “absolve the city of any responsibility.”  Then let’s say, as was the case last August, someone calls 9-1-1 and reports that they think they saw someone disappear the middle of the lake. Or let’s say, someone calls 9-1-1 and says there’s someone in the middle of the lake screaming for help? Do the police and fire dept respond? Or do they say:

“C’est la vie. Too bad for them. It’s swim at their own risk. They signed the waiver. We posted the signs. Let em drown.”
Now we know that the men and women who are Newton’s first responders would never do that. We know they’ve dedicated their lives to saving people.  We know they’d show up as fast as they could and risk their own lives to save another. We know they’d spend a week or more, dragging the lake if they felt someone was at the bottom.
But really should they? After all, the victim signed Goldman’s waiver.  (Or at least we’d assume they did, because how could you check?). They “absolved the city of any responsibility”  They knew they were taking a chance.
I suppose one could ask the same question of any person. Let’s say you’re walking by the lake and hear someone crying for help.  Do you risk being pulled under by this panicked person who agreed to swim at their own risk?
If the answer is, of course, you try to save someone. Or most people would anyway, It’s right thing to do. Then is it really proper to call that “swimming at your own risk”?