May 27, 2018

Words To—and From—the Wise


Dear Editor,

[In response to last issue’s article, “Red Rock Fire Threatens Canyon!” where Mary Rhodes] “was more than a little dismayed at the 9-1-1 response. ‘When I reported the fire,’ she said, “’the voice on the other end of the phone said, ‘We don’t have a Red Rock. We have Skyline.’” Rhodes quickly retorted saying, “Just send them up to Skyline and they’ll drive right by the fire!”

Since it ended up with a good ending, I'm laughing so hard. I can just visualize Mary saying this while fighting a fire at the same time.

Although, I'm thinking you should have someone do a follow-up and find out why Red Rock isn't on their CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch). That's a pretty glaring thing to be missing. It varies about which department would pick up the call first, CHP or Sheriff.

It reminds me of when I was working Ventura County and came upon a car (DUI) overturned on the highway. I turned on the overhead emergency lights on my patrol car and got out to take care of the driver while calling 911 (in that case CHP). He obviously had head injuries so I told dispatch there was an overturned car and I needed a paramedic and ambulance and the number one lane was blocked. She asked me why the number one lane was blocked. (Duh? The overturned car maybe?)

Although Red Rock was the first location given in this case, you may want to let people know that the fire department is obligated to go to the address dispatched. Back in the late ‘90s there was a fire next door to Ken Widen's house off Canyon Trail, but someone across the canyon saw the smoke and thought the fire was on Cheney, so that's how the call went through. Capt. Warren Chase was on duty that day and as they drove down Topanga Canyon he took one look and knew there was a fire up Canyon Trail, but he had to continue on because someone else could really have a fire at Cheney. He radioed the squad to break off and go to Canyon Trail while he took the engine to Cheney per protocol. Once it was cleared he took the engine back. And it was okay because even though Ken wasn't home he had a high pressure hose already hooked up for fires (garden hoses are pretty useless, folks) and a house guest and one of the County firefighters manned the hose and had things under control.

[Mary] you’re great! And it was great to see Ken Widen's picture and know he's still out there as a call firefighter. He loves it and no one is more dedicated.

—Penny Taylor