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 firefighters 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 firefighters 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. Firefighters 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, which 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…