One of the greatest dangers a lifeguard faces while rescuing a drowning person is the very real possibility of drowning him or herself.
Environmental factors not withstanding, the danger to the lifeguard is the drowning person, despite their vulnerable and weak state.
It’s somebody’s vulnerable and weak state that triggers our rescue/helping instinct and, if we are not careful, that can lead to our downfall.
The drowning person is in a state of shock and panic. If the lifeguard does not follow the proper procedures, he or she can easily be pulled under water by the drowning person who is being ruled by the chaotic, potentially dangerous survival instinct.
There are two important lessons here.
Number one: our attempts to rescue will backfire if they are not grounded by commonsense and training. Number two: difficult though it is, at times, we must leave others to suffer the pain of their fate.
If we lack the proper skills and know the building is seconds away from collapsing, you are wise to leave the dog who is stuck in the basement, lest you lose your own life.
Fortunately, we have no way of knowing what is truly bad or what is truly good—especially when it comes to the fates of others.