Wednesday, November 29, 2017

We Can Help

Something happened yesterday.  It really bugged me, and it's something you should know about.

Just before 2:00 am, we started getting reports that there was a lost hunter.  The first job was to confirm and get specifics.

When I called one branch of emergency services, I was quickly referred to a police agency.  During that call, I was brusquely told that the officer in charge would prepare a news release upon his return.  It could be five minutes or it could be five hours.

Imagine, for a moment, that it's your loved one lost in the woods.  Cold.  Frightened.  In a great deal of danger.  I would want first responders and law enforcement to use every tool in their arsenal as quickly as possible.  The lost hunter easily could have been killed.  One of those tools is letting as many people know, as fast as possible.

I will be the first to admit that the news media can get in the way.  We can also help.  Help big time.  In addition to our broadcasts, we have web sites and social media.  The word needed to get out, and in a timely manner.  It didn't happen.  I wish I could give you the people responsible for the disconnect and the reasons.  I cannot because I just don't know why something like that would happen.

Minutes count.

I respect the work of men and women in uniform, police, firefighters, Game Commission, emergency medical...  They do outstanding work, and we couldn't survive without them.  They have the training, equipment and gear.  They also possess something just as valuable:  information that could save a life.

I later learned that when the lost hunter made his way out of the woods and encountered civilization, the first homes he approached wouldn't offer help.  I get that.  If a strange man with a gun came to my door, I'd be reluctant, too.  But, do you think if there was a lost hunter in the area, they'd be on the lookout?  If they only knew...

We did get a photojournalist out there as quickly as possible to find out what was happening.  Still, there was a delay, and it shouldn't have happened.

Again, I will admit there is often an adversarial relationship between the media and police/emergency services.  It's our job to hold people accountable.  It creates friction.  It comes along with the territory and I can understand it.  But, someone's life was at stake here.

After it was over, I politely pleaded my case to a first responder.  It was very similar to what you see above.  The person suggested I speak to an association that covers the lost hunter area.  Great idea!  If it works with my bizarre work and sleep schedule, I'm there.  I handed out business cards.  Let's talk.

This shouldn't have happened.