Friday, October 11, 2013, 10:47 AM

"This is 9-1-1 -- please state your emergency"

If government officials are keeping a dossier on me they know I dial 9-1-1 more than your average person, and I wonder what they think about that. I think it's because I live on a pretty exciting bend on a pretty exciting road where people like to crash. Just two weeks ago a young man in a black SUV took out our fire hydrant in broad daylight -  he was missing his turn and overcompensated.  He left part of his front end at the scene as he sped off. I dialed 9-1-1. No blood and guts this time.

And I happen live on a block that is on the border of two first responder districts, so both respond. If you have a thing for firefighters, come be my neighbor.

I got to thinking about all of this as the Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety was hearing from the Director of the 911 Board and the Director of the State Division of Emergency Management. The 911 Board is charged with setting and collecting a fee that is used to buy equipment for 911 Call Centers in our counties, setting stardards statewide and updating maps, regularly, with the help of Emergency Management. I 'm good with that. In that presentation they were discussing the good progress of creating backup systems for when there are 911 Call Center outages. There have been 19 so far this year. Yikes.

I was most interested in the updating of maps.  As we know, North Carolina is growing fast. I attended UNC in Chapel Hill - it's in the southern part of town.  I grew up off Weaver Dairy Road - in the northern part of town.  While in college I became a certified EMT and had a regular overnight volunteer shift with the South Orange Rescue Squad - lights and sirens - the works. As soon as folks found out I knew my way around northern Chapel Hill I was assigned there, and I had to kiss the EMT action of the Unversity, college athletics and downtown goodbye. It was a bummer. It makes sense, though, because I knew my way around the roads in the northern part of town and the maps were outdated as soon as they were printed. And they were paper maps and our shift was at night. We visited a lot of homes, restaurants and ball fields of my childhood.

So as I think about the functions of government that I appreciate in the shadow of the federal government shutdown and the debt ceiling debate in Washington, funding the infrastructure that gets our first responders where we need them is one worth supporting.

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