November 22, 2013

Busy Morning

Yesterday morning was interesting, y'all. There were a couple of big stories that broke soon after I got into work. First, there was an explosion at a pyrotechnics building in Owens Crossroads. Then a suspicious package was found attached to a chemical tanker rail car outside a plant in Decatur.

Now, I've worked in newsrooms and radio off and on since 2003. The only time I was in an active newsroom; however, was during my internship and first media job summer 2003 through early 2004. The most we saw in those months was heated debate about the vote on whether or not Athens would go "wet" and the upcoming elections. I was working for Cumulus (WZYP/WHRP) when a traffic accident sent a school bus over the Parkway railing in Huntsville. But, I was stationed in the sales office at that time, an entire city away from the broadcast station, so I had no idea what it was like in the news studio that day.

Yesterday was my first time being in the station when local news was breaking.

My day job is with a small, independently owned local news/talk radio station. We don't have enough people on staff to send someone out to the scene when something like this happens, so we were dependent upon reaching the local EMA and police departments by phone as well as watching live feeds from larger news outlets who had people on site. Still, it was interesting and busy carrying information back and forth.

Where I became a bit irritated was people making a huge joke out of the incident both during the scare and immediately after the package was found to be drugs rather than explosives. Maybe these folks felt the need to make light of the situation to keep from freaking out, but is it really a laughing matter? The package was found on a tanker used to carry a corrosive and toxic chemical in the middle of a manufacturing district and near a nuclear plant. If it had been an explosive and, Lord forbid, it went off, what would they have said then?

Are emergency teams called in for false alarms? Yes. It happens. Does this mean those teams should never be called in for preventative measures? I'd have to say no. Thought has to go into the decision, but at some point, a call has to be made. Only time will tell if a decision was right or not, but when an official errs on the side of caution in a situation like this, it seems extremely ungrateful to turn around and start impinging the IQ of the one who made the call instead of just being relieved it was a false alarm.

You never know when the "bag of pot" might actually be threat, and I wouldn't want to be in town the day an emergency official decided to let it go for fear of being made a laughing stock.

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