Small Town Life

The new place I live in isn’t super rural, per se — we’re 20 minutes from a town big enough to have a Home Depot, for instance. But that’s in the next county; the county I live in has around 4,000 full-time residents.

As it happens, one of the leading local politicians, Alan, is the brother of a good friend of mine from California. I should say “was” a leading local politician; he retired from politics, but as an ex-undersheriff of a much bigger county, he’s still pretty active in the community. He’s one of the volunteers for the local ambulance service, and recently was appointed the head of the Office of Emergency Services. (It seems everyone wears more than one hat around here!)

Now, being as small as we are, there aren’t all that many county-wide emergencies, but One Must Be Prepared, especially now that the ugly specter of terrorism is a constant concern in the U.S. (as it has been in a lot of other countries for many years).

Since one of my interests is emergency communications, I told Alan that I’d be happy to help the county get their communications in order, perhaps bring them kicking and screaming into the 21st century? He didn’t say yes, he said YES!, and would I please meet with the sheriff to explain what’s needed? It seems that Alan has been working on this very topic for a year, but didn’t really know what he was doing and would be really happy to have someone help. Right place, right time and all that.

So anyway, after being Duly Appointed by the sheriff as communications czar, I’ve already participated in two functions, including an actual emergency: sadly, one of my neighbors — 3 miles away — lost their house to a fire not too long before Christmas. Since it was so close, I ended up being the first one on the scene, finding the house a goner for sure. I was hoping that there was no one inside, since they’d definitely be dead.

Luckily, no one was home, but indeed their three pets were dead. So it ended up being my job to get on the radio to let the incoming firefighters know what they were up against, and to tell them exactly where it was and how to get there. Interesting stuff, if sad to watch my neighbors arrive to see their home being destroyed.

And today, the flip side of the job: administration. Alan handed me a packet of stuff from the Federal Communications Commission — licensing info. Because even police radios have to be licensed, and no one has been coordinating that. Might I take that on? Yep.

And, speaking of terrorism, the feds are funneling grants to the states to help them get up to snuff, and would I come to a meeting to discuss what it is we need, and in what priority? Well, OK. I moved here in part to slow down a little. Instead, my energies are merely being refocused, much to my wife’s dismay. Small town life!

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