Wednesday, August 2, 2006

911 Is Heating Up

Sitting home in my semi-comfortable living room this evening, I decided to see what was going on in the rest of the world and switched the TV over to the CBS Evening News. Bob Schieffer, a grandfatherly newscaster reminiscent of Walter Cronkite and light years ahead of their soon-to-be-new anchor Katie Couric, proceeded to tell me that it wasn't just hot outside of my own humble abode but that the entire East Coast was baking under an unrelenting sun. Not living in a bubble or in a house with central air-conditioning, I was cognizant of this fact but as the saying goes "misery loves company" and it was nice to see my fellow Americans sweltering in the same manner I had been prior to retreating to the couch.

Bob turned the story over to reporter Trish Regan who had spent the day with an emergency services crew in New York City to see how people there were handling the heat. I must admit that I was rather surprised not to see a group of street-tough New Yorkers standing on the corner telling the news crew "So what it's hot?? Fuggudaboutit!" but people looking like they were ready to melt into the sidewalks. New Yorkers, in my mind, can handle just about anything thrown at them so if they're saying it's hot then you better believe it's hot!

According to the rather cool-looking Ms. Regan, 911 calls had risen 20% from normal in the Big Apple and this was going to be the 5th busiest day on record for them. My heart goes out to the men and women who staff those centers as I'm sure that a 20% rise in calls puts an already busy city pretty close to being over the edge and I've no doubt that, despite the air-conditioning, it was not a great day to be at work.

Those of us who choose this profession probably have a screw loose somewhere but we also know that we are an integral part of society. Without someone to answer 911 there is no one to send police, fire, or medical personnel where they're needed. People seem to forget that small fact and when the weather is like it is or another tragedy befalls them it seems that we're the first one that people yell at as if we had some sort of magical control over the universe and life. Thankfully, though, we're trained professionals and we understand that when the adrenalin starts pumping people don't always act their best. We're there to help - regardless.

Reporter Regan ended her broadcast tonight with a rather ominous note for those of us who work in 911 centers and for the people we dispatch ... "because it's only August, the forecast for 911 centers and emergency services workers will remain stressful and busy as they try to guard people against all this heat." That doesn't exactly bode well for the rest of the summer but as I said, we're there to help - regardless. Stay hydrated and stay cool as best you can. And remember, winter's only four months away!
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2 comments:

  1. I feel for everyone who has their heatwave served up with a whopping side 'o humidity. At least our 115 degree days in central California are (so far) largely dry heat, and because we normally contend with temps a bit higher than most of the country, far more homes have central cooling. As nice as all that is, we shall be giving our local EMS folks a second round of activity

    Wet or dry, this stuff is no joke, particularly to older folks, those on meds that affect internal cooling, etc. It's good to remind these folks to take precautions (and better still to ca, but we all need to be cautious under the current conditions. Our 'lil town (250,000 eclectic souls) had 7 deaths; five of them were under age 60! Scary stuff.

    Not as scary as our power bills for the wonders of central air, though. I predict EMS will have a hearty second round of activity when THOSE arrive.

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  2. Trust me, I'm going to have an ALS crew on standby in front of the house before I open my electric bill what with the window a/c's running pretty much 24/7 for the past eight days.

    And a big thank you to Andrew once again for his unit installation - I can only shudder at how bad it would have been around here had he not come around and taken care of what I can't anymore with my bad back! Thanks, Drew!!

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