One year ago

My disaster response job combines geeky engineer with park ranger.  Basically I set up and operate temporary 2-way radio, computer and satellite communications networks at portable disaster hospitals for the federal government.  Think M*A*S*H, but with grey tents and no laugh track.    It’s a neat job that I love to do, but I’m even more glad that it is only seldom needed.

June 30, 2013, at 4:42pm MST, 19 wildland fire fighters, the Granite Mountain Hotshots, died fighting a fire near Yarnell, Arizona.

A disaster, wildland fire, or even a large planned event involves many different local, state, county and federal agencies/services, and the communications networks that are created on a moment’s notice must work together so everyone can communicate as needed.  From the moment I leave the house until I get home, I don’t know what will be needed or what problems will have to be solved or even who I’ll be working with.  So the folks in the disaster communications world train a lot together and a large part of the training is getting to know the other folks in this line of work…so a couple of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were more than just a name.

I was unbelievably saddened last year when all of this happened and  I’m still sad for their families.  I am also sure that up until the last minute or two of their lives, they were doing exactly what they loved and knew they were making a difference for other people. How many other people can say that?

If you haven’t heard of the 100 Club of Arizona, look them up, see what they do and maybe consider making a donation.  They are great people that I hope never come to see my wife and daughter….no offense intended…


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