Sunday, January 5, 2014

What Goes Up

This just in from Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services:


"There has been quite a bit of concern about the department approved fireworks activity in the County this evening. Needless to say, we could have done a better job informing our community that the event was going to take place. As we all share and learn about the use of social media as a method to keep our community informed, we at HCDFRS apologize for creating any concern by the citizens and visitors to our County."


I arrived home last evening to the sound of fireworks in the distance and a small explosion of concern on social media. I was not the only one who heard the fireworks. In fact, the sound seemed to be carrying quite a distance. At one point I was following four distinct threads on Facebook. There was a significant amount of concern.

Basically, it boiled down to this: if you hear explosions, and it isn't a time you expect to be hearing fireworks, then what is it? Is it a house booby-trapped with home made explosive devices? Could we be under attack? (Someone did mention the possibility of alien invasion, but I don't think they were serious.)

"This is a test. This is only a test. If this were a real emergency, you would be prompted to check in with your nearest form of social media for instructions."

Okay, so it wasn't meant to be a test, but it certainly functioned as one. Although it didn't produce a "War of the Worlds" sort of response, it was certainly educational to the Howard County Fire Department. These days the right of free assembly apparently includes the right of concerned citizens to bunch up on the internet and ask each other, "What the heck is going on?"

Once I pried myself off of Facebook, I found the answer I needed on Twitter. Not surprising. Twitter is just set up better for information dispersal in real time, cross-referencing, category searching, focusing on immediate location and the like. To their credit, @HCDFRS jumped in relatively soon with this:

@HCDFRS: The loud booms heard this evening in western Ellicott City were from a private fireworks display. The event ended shortly before 10pm.

I responded-- @macsmom: @HCDFRS Thanks. I'm thinking that, should this ever happen again, you might use social media accounts to inform people before-hand?

@HCDFRS_Chief: .@macsmom - Certainly agree! I could have done a better job and sincerely apologize to all who were rightfully concerned! #HoCoMD @HCDFRS

So, thus suitably informed, I carried the news in my little bucket back to Facebook, dumped it out, and watched it spread. It was, as Mr. Spock would say, "Fascinating."

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