Wednesday, June 18, 2014

First Person: Explosion

Like most stories, it started with a text.  My phone pinged late Sunday night.  Acting morning producer mike informed me two people were missing after a home exploded in Damascus Township, and I would be headed to Wayne County for Newswatch 16 This Morning.

I jumped out of bed, hit the shower, and arrived at the station shortly before 1:00 AM.  We had two photographers and a satellite truck on scene.  I was to take a car and meet the photographers there, just across the river from Callicoon, New York.  I'm not familiar with the area, so I took a look at an internet map, got my bearings, and headed for the door.

It was just my luck.  I grabbed the only news car without a GPS, which I didn't notice at first, because I had intended to plug it in when I got to Honesdale.  I still had the printed map, and some knowledge of my general destination.   It turns out I took the long way, but I made it to Damascus Township in plenty of time.

This might be too "inside baseball" for most of you, but let me explain one of our major Monday morning issues.  We were going to be live near the blast scene using one of our satellite trucks.  It's not simply of matter of deploying the dish on top of the truck and pressing a button.  You have to communicate with the people who control the satellites, and we do that via cell phone.  Unfortunately, cellular coverage in the Damascus area is almost non existent.    It was time to consider our options.

We decided to try across the river in Callicoon.  It was higher, and we stood a better chance of getting cell service.  Success!  We landed in the parking lot of Catskill Regional Medical Center along Route 97.  More about them later.  We grabbed a spot in the hospital's parking lot, and were live with the latest all morning on Newswatch 16.

After our last "hit" at 6:30, we went back to the scene to do more interviews, get more video, acquire more information, etc.  It was them time to start putting something together for Newswatch 16 at Noon.  The hospital was kind enough to let me use their internet connection to send a script back to the office, and our web people here made sure it got on WNEP.com quickly.  The noon story was edited in the truck, and video was sent back to the station, and I was live with the very latest at noon.

After 12:00 PM, I went back to the office.  Our satellite truck uperator handed off the vehicle to the afternoon crew, and he was done for the day.

The staff at Catskill Regional Medical Center could not have been nicer and more professional.  In addition to offering the internet connection, they provided a bathroom and refreshments.  I used the porcelean conveniences, but I'm not a coffee drinker.  I bought a big soda in town.  Thank you to the hospital staff.  You made my day so much easier.

I'm sorry that I had to hit the area for such a sad story.  I hadn't been up that way in ages, and I forgot how beautiful it is.  I'll have to make it a point to get out there with my camera someday soon.