April 04, 2005

Our Debt to Society

On Saturday, four of us at the house paid our debt to society. In order to make up for community faux pas last quarter, we “volunteered” at the local Red Cross.

Apparently our party was too loud, and the police noticed. The law for that sort of thing in Athens doesn’t necessitate that someone actually complain about the noise. The police can use their judgment and assess a citation without it actually being a problem to any other member of the community.

As retribution for or crime against society, we were assigned 4 hours community service and had to pay a fine. The fine was around 100 bucks, I think, and we paid for it out of what we’ll call “communal funds”. I was surprised that we were only given 4 hours of community service. Four hours seems like so little service for the community. Stranger still, but also fortunate, was that other people could help with that service. We were assigned to the Athens Red Cross. They were holding a Disaster Relief Drill on Saturday, and we were to go there to help with whatever they needed.

We arrived at our assigned time of 8:30am. The place was full of volunteers, and only a couple of people seemed to really know what was going on. After filling out some quick paperwork, we were instructed to load a van full of water in milk jug containers. Being four of us, we made short work of that. We also had to put a few large supply containers in the van.

Much of the time was spent standing around, waiting for instructions. Eventually we were sent to the back room to wait for “the call.” Everyone else it seemed was in it for the whole day’s affair. They were setting up a drill to rehearse their relief skills and the call would tell them the situation.

The call finally came right around 930. According to the scenario, there was an explosion at the technical school in Nelsonville. Shots had been fired; there were casualties and a potential hostage situation. Four hundred people were being evacuated to the student center at Hocking College. In a matter of minutes, all of the volunteers were out the door and headed for Nelsonville.

The whole situation was pretty neat. It’s admirable that these volunteers take the time to rehearse their services so that they’ll be ready for a future disaster. I did find it puzzling that they chose this sort of scenario to use as a drill. I mean, what’s really the likelihood of some sort of terrorist attack in Nelsonville? In my mind, they should rehearse a more likely situation- like flooding. Southeast Ohio and Athens County in particular flood all the time, throughout the winter and spring. That would be a much more useful drill.

Regardless, the whole situation was pretty neat. We picked up some information on how to volunteer again in the future. If they needed us, we could bring twenty guys to help disaster relief efforts. I’d completely be willing to help out.

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