Monday, June 25, 2007

Fired For Saving a Life

Colin Bruley, a leasing agent at an apartment complex in Jacksonville, FL, was fired nearly two weeks ago after he came to the aid of a resident screaming for help.

Bruley grabbed his shotgun and ran out to help the woman who yelled that she'd just been shot. She feared that her assailant might still be in the area.

"She was in a desperate need for help 'Someone help me, I've been shot,'" he said. "I reacted to a situation and it was a matter of seconds."

Bruley said he found Tonnetta Lee bleeding heavily. He handed the shotgun to a neighbor, tied a tourniquet around her right leg and waited for police and rescue to arrive. He never encountered the assailant and his shotgun was never fired.

The next morning, his employers fired him, citing "gross misconduct" and for possessing the shotgun, which violated their company policy. Never mind that he saved a life.

"Going out there unarmed, I think, would have been dumb," Bruley later noted. "Anybody that had access to a weapon would have done the same thing."

Emil Steiner, of the Washington Post, wrote: "He put the life of his neighbor -- who was also his client -- ahead of his own safety. Which raises the question: Isn't this the kind of person any company would want as an employee?"

Exactly. While I understand that it's normally a good idea to follow company policy, some common sense should apply. Obdurately taking a "rules are rules" approach, leaving no room for discretion, is both unfair and shortsighted.

The fact that this man saved a life, risking his own safety to do so should have outweighed the breaking of company policy in this case. Indeed, if the company had properly rewarded him for his heroism, they could have garnered positive attention for their apartment community. Instead, by taking a blockheaded approach, they've dug their own hole of negative publicity.

We can only hope that some other apartment complex will soon snap up Bruley and give him a job.


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