I've always enjoyed reading the news from the small towns in my life. It's not only to keep up with family and friends, but also to enjoy the sense of pride and ownership in places where change comes slowly, if at all. Reading articles about emergency responses are the best way to appreciate that concept of ownership. Granted, "warm fuzzy" pride stories contribute but the emergencies usually make it to lead status. Sometimes these stories come with high humor value. One of them appeared today in the Cumberland [Maryland]Times-News. Here's the important news:
One housed burned,
One house damaged,
Here is the rest of the story:
Maryland State Fire Marshall's Office responded,
Allegany County Fire Police attended,
Bowling Green FD managed the fire,
LaVale FD assisted,
Bedford Road FD assisted,
Corriganville FD assisted,
District 16 FD assisted,
Cresaptown FD assisted.
Bowman's Addition FD assisted,
Frostburg FD assisted,
Shaft FD assisted,
Mount Savage FD assisted,
Midland FD assisted,
Rawlings FD assisted,
Ridgeley FD assisted,
Short Gap FD assisted
Frostburg Area Ambulance responded,
LaVale Resuce Squad responded.
The newsy part required 61 words. The list of responders took 77 words. The building was a total loss. Not so for the story.
My only personal experience - a tragic one - regarding "emergency ownership" actually occurred in suburban Washington in my early days as a ranger on the shore of the Potomac River in Maryland. Earlier in the week, a visitor fell into the river from the Virginia shore and drowned. The United States Park Police were notified of a body in the river three days later and radioed our office to meet them at a boat landing. Local fire and rescue squads are always listening to the radio. We arrived at the site to find the body in the Park Police boat and the Montgomery County Rescue Squad approaching fisticuffs with the Cabin John Rescue Squad over who had the "rights" to collect the remains. Park Police officers resolved the issue after we departed the scene. A draw-and quarter ritual crossed our minds, and we left with images of dressed-out firemen strutting around their side-by-side boats landed near their side-by-side boat trailers supported by a dozen fire engines, ambulances, and assorted official vehicles scattered around the access point like so many toys, Clearing the site had to be an object lesson in traffic planning and management.
Readers may think caring people should not find a reason to smile when tragedy occurs, but humor often gets first-responders through their saddest tasks. This event came with its ready-made humor.
I have to admit that the towns of Cabin John and Potomac (Montgomery County Rescue) had a greater sense of independence and ownership in 1972 than they do today. Washington swallowed them years ago, so I can't say how they would respond to a body recovery today. I'm sure our honored fire fighters and rescue squads in the greater Cumberland area would perform admirably and deserve praise and all notice for their ownership and performance. I wouldn't mind a bit more balance from additional information on the incidents themselves. At the same time, I'd hate to miss the credits. Too bad they don't come with music like in the movies.