This week’s column

Pub­li­ca­tion: Free­dom — OCR - Pla­cen­tia News-Times; Date:Aug 11, 2017; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: 4

National Night Out is a buf­fet of infor­ma­tion for the community

True con­fes­sion: I’ve never attended a National Night Out event. When I first saw the adver­tise­ments, I pic­tured some­thing out of a dat­ing site, with cou­ples laugh­ing over wine and food. This year, I had to go.

As it turns out, there was food and match­mak­ing of a sort, if you were look­ing for a neigh­bor­hood group to join, or a com­mu­nity ser­vice you might need, such as the fire depart­ment, or the police. I don’t know how long Pla­cen­tia has hosted this event, but National Night Out has existed since 1984.

I have a lot of catch­ing up to do.

The evening of the event was chal­leng­ing. For some rea­son, we were hav­ing thun­der­storms, sur­rounded by rain. I had planned to walk to the Pla­cen­tia Town Cen­ter and the shindig. Not only would I not worry about park­ing, I could get a lit­tle exercise.

I stood on my patio, watch­ing the rain pour, won­der­ing if I should still walk, drive instead and fight for park­ing, or not go at all. In the end, my stub­born dis­like of change won, and I stuck to my plan.

I did leave the umbrella at home. There was no sense in being a light­ning rod.

The large, sparse drops did not bother me as I strolled to the cen­ter. I heard a voice on a speaker, so I aimed for that. It turns out, a team of fire­men were dis­man­tling a com­pact car, while one of them described why they would do this to save your life. I learned many things from their short demonstration.

  1. It’s really cool when fire­men rip the roof off a car.
  2. In our area, Truck 34 has the widest range of life­sav­ing tools. Can I request them, specifically?
  3. Fire­men are always on call. In the mid­dle of their demon­stra­tion, they had to rush off to an emergency.

I turned my atten­tion to the police depart­ment, who had sev­eral booths set up. After assur­ing our chief, Darin Lenyi, that my ques­tions are always research for my mys­ter­ies, and not for crim­i­nal activ­i­ties, I talked to our Crime Scene inves­ti­ga­tors to find out what kind of role they play.

It was a mys­tery novelist’s ver­sion of par­adise. All of those experts in one place, like an infor­ma­tion buffet.

Next, I dis­cussed patient care and city juris­dic­tions with the ambu­lance dri­ver. He explained which com­pany is con­tracted by which city. When they’re called, it’s by the police or fire depart­ment. The dis­patch­ers have to stay in close com­mu­ni­ca­tion to keep from adding time to a crit­i­cal situation.

There are prob­a­bly mar­riages that don’t have that kind of teamwork.

A lot of the Pla­cen­tia orga­ni­za­tions were there as well, so I had fun talk­ing to Dot­tie at the Rotary Club booth, Kathie Bald­win at the Cham­ber of Com­merce, and a few other friendly faces. The Rotary Club is try­ing to grow their ranks, and is inves­ti­gat­ing dif­fer­ent ways to do that.

I told them if pajama par­ties were added to their morn­ing meet­ings, I could show up.

The farm­ers mar­ket was also on the scene, and the aro­mas of the food made me hun­gry. In the end, I went to Crafts­man, where I knew I could get a side of air con­di­tion­ing with my meal.

That’s where Dale joined me, for drinks and food. It was a per­fect way to cel­e­brate National Night Out.

Long­time Pla­cen­tia res­i­dent Gayle Car­line tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, com­puter whiz and horse­woman. E-mail her at [email protected].

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