Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 and Public Safety Commo

I only caught the last hour of the ABC special “Path to 9/11”. As tempting as it is, I have little to add to the tons of verbiage justly honoring the almost casual heroism of both uniformed and civilian Americans who willingly, knowingly gave their lives for others on that day. Sufficient to say, I regard it as a distinction between a civilized society and barbarian tribalism that in a civilized society, the common civilian is willing to give his life to save others; in the barbarian tribe honors go to those who willingly commit suicide to murder strangers of another tribe.

The thought I wanted to pass along inspired by this dramatization came from scenes toward the end with everyone in the crowd background getting the “all circuits are busy” message on the cell phones. As has been commented on a few times by Blogmaster Turner, San Angelo, like most cities, has not yet mastered public safety communications.

In times of natural or man-made disaster, communications between different law enforcement agencies, EMTs, Fire and other “first responder” personnel is being improved, but is far from perfect. It is not hard to imagine a circumstance such that those people are falling back to cell phones to coordinate their response.

Should San Angelo be hit by a storm, a bombing, whatever, I am asking you, if you get that “all circuits are busy” message GET OFF THE CELL AND STAY OFF OF IT! Hard as it may be to sit and fret about Aunt Mabel or brother Bob, by tying up the circuits, you could actually interfere with the efforts of the professionals who may well be out there trying to save just the person you are worried about and getting the same signal.

In the movie, I noticed one license with reality they took was to let the MVP's phone calls go through while the street folk got the busy signal. In reality, phone circuits do not discriminate by priority, only random chance. Please folks, restrain your anxiety for a few hours. Officer Friendly has a better chance of doing good if he can tell Fireman Fred where the fire is instead of grinding his teeth at a phone that tells him “all circuits are busy”.

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