The Inspiration for Kari’s Law

Posted 2-20-2018 by Arthur Meacham

It began on December 1, 2013. Brad Dunn, the estranged husband of Kari Hunt Dunn stabbed his wife 21 times in a motel bathroom in Marshall, Texas. Their three young daughters were in the bedroom and could hear the violent act. The eldest child, only 9 years old, tried to dial 9-1-1 but couldn’t because the phone system there required you to dial an initial “9”.

Hank Hunt, the father of Kari Hunt says he will never forget the words of his granddaughter, “I tried four times, Papa, but it didn’t work.” Multi-Line phone systems often found in hotels, motels, office buildings, schools and other places required that a ‘9’ be dialed first to get an outside line before you can dial 9-1-1. The instruction from fire, EMS, police and other emergency personnel has always been that when you need help, you dial 9-1-1 but no one ever taught that on some phone systems you had to dial a different number before you could dial 9-1-1.

Kari’s Law changed that. Kari’s Law was enacted in Texas on May 15, 2015. Legislation was also passed in the states of Illinois, Maryland and Tennessee and other places. Legislation was submitted by U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas to Congress and by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. to the Senate. In both Houses there was bipartisan support. Kari’s Law was also supported by the Federal Communications Commission.. FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai said, “This legislation will help ensure that every call to 9-1-1 directly connects those in need with those who can help.”

On February 9th, what would have been Kari’s 36th birthday, the bill was passed. Surrounded by Kari’s family, on February 16, 2018, President Donald Trump signed Kari’s Law enacting Federal legislation requiring multi-line telephone systems to have a default configuration so users can dial 9-1-1 without first dialing a prefix. Rep. Gohmert said, “Her legacy will now live on and safeguard others from experiencing a situation of this magnitude.”

 

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Analysis Paralysis

Posted 2-13-2018 by Arthur Meacham

Have you ever seen someone standing in front of one of those large candy machines unable to choose which one they want? There are times when we all suffer what I call “Input Overload”. It’s that state where we receive so much information that we can’t consume it all. We have so much information about something that we cannot make a decision about what to do about it or how to handle it. Hand in hand with input overload is the state of over-thinking a situation to the point of analysis paralysis. We are paralyzed to the point we do not take any action because we do not know what action would be best.

We see this often in sports. The quarter back gets the ball and if there is nowhere to run and only one receiver down the field, he responds without hesitation. If there is an opening for him to run the ball and at the same time three potential receivers down field now he is faced with choosing what to do. All the while there are players from the opposing team rushing toward him intent on sacking him for a loss. Should he become paralyzed and fail to act quickly and appropriately, yardage is lost.

I watched the news coverage last week of the multiple vehicle crashes on the highway due at large to the icy conditions of the roadway. The reporter was interviewing a man who had driven his car off the side of the road and down the embankment. When asked by the reporter why he drove off the road he responded that looking down the highway all he could see were wrecked vehicles in front of him and an iced over roadway between. In that instant he chose to go off the road sparing damage to his car and the lives of those inside. Other drivers on that road, frozen in the moment of decision, rush headlong into the pile of wreckage.

When hit by analysis paralysis, we are like the fox in the ancient fable of the fox and the cat. In the story the fox and cat are discussing their tricks and escape maneuvers. The cat only has one but the fox brags that he has many. At that point the hunter’s hounds are heard approaching. The cat runs up a tree but the fox cannot determine which of his many escape plans would be best and in the end is caught by the hounds.

The 9-1-1 communications personnel in the past and even today in the majority of the communications centers receive information about emergency incidents from a caller over the phone. The input is verbal, the spoken language between the caller and the operator. With the advancement of computerized communications software and hardware the brave new world of the next generation 9-1-1 holds not only verbal information for the dispatchers but also text, photos and video presenting a vast quantity of data with which to make an informed decision as to the nature of the call and the required services of personnel and equipment to send. With it also comes the potential for input overload leading to analysis paralysis.

When faced with a multitude of possible choices, what should we do? Perhaps by narrowing it down to these three things we can avoid indecision:

1. Decide what needs our attention the most at that moment.

2. Prioritize and order those by importance, setting aside the ones that can be dealt with once those of highest importance are handled.

3. Realizing what you can actually accomplish and what really are the options that you have at your disposal will tell you what actions you can and should take.

Input overload and analysis paralysis affects all activities and areas of life, at home, at work and everywhere in between. In this modern computer age where so much information is available in such a short amount of time all of us face it from time to time.

Even in our multi-tasking society, you can’t do everything at once. Narrow it down. Select the three to five most important items that need your attention right now. When you have the task narrowed down to those three to five items, work on them until finished. Then move on to the next three to five items. In following this process, you can avoid analysis paralysis.

 

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Flu Season

Posted 2-06-2018 by Arthur Meacham

With the flu reaching epidemic status in all 50 States, we need to know how to deal with it and the problems associated with the contagiousness.

People with the flu will have some or all of these symptoms that usually come on suddenly:

• Fever or feeling feverish/chills (not everyone who has the flu has a fever)

• Cough

• Sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose

• Muscle or body aches

• Headaches

• Fatigue

• Some may have vomiting and diarrhea which is more common in young children.

Flu spreads when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or even talks thereby spreading the virus in tiny molecules. And the problem is that a person may be contagious and begin spreading the flu 24 hours before they show any signs and know they are sick. From the time a person is exposed to the flu virus until they begin to show symptoms may be up to 4 days. People 65 years of age and older and young children are at high risk from getting the flu and should take extra care.

What can you do to prevent getting the flu? The first and foremost thing is to get a flu shot every year. According to the CDC, even if you get the flu, if you have had the flu vaccine your symptoms will be less severe. Getting a flu shot alone will not prevent you from getting the flu but there are some common sense things you can do to help. Staying away from people who are already sick would be a logical step if it weren’t for the fact stated above that people are contagious a full day before they begin to show symptoms of the flu. So let’s reverse this step by saying, if you have the flu, stay at home so you won’t contaminate others. According to the CDC you should stay at home for a full 24 hours after your fever ends. When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash rather than leaving it around for a second use. If you don’t have the flu, when you are out in the public and coming into contact with others who may have the flu, don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands. This brings us to the point that one of the most important things you can do to prevent getting the flu is to wash your hands with soap and water or use one of the hand sanitizers. Do you remember the television comedy-drama about a detective, Adrian Monk who had a terror of germs and contamination? During the flu season, become a germaphobic like Monk.

Be safe, practice good habits and stay well.

 

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All Work and No Play

Posted 1-30-2018 by Arthur Meacham

Do you check your work related email from the Caribbean? Over sixty percent of employees not only check their work email while on vacation but also keep tabs on what is happening at work and take the time to remote in and when needed. Technology is a wonderful thing, however this same technology is an invisible cord that keeps us connected at all times.

It’s not just a matter of staying connected to the office while on vacation from the office, a 2014 report by Glassdoor showed that 77% of workers did not use all of their allotted vacation time and the percentage has increased every year. Nearly half of the vacation time given to the average worker is left on the table at the end of their work year.

There are numerous reasons why employees should take time off. A vacation can be a time to rejuvenate both physically and mentally. It can help to lower anxiety, stress, fatigue and depression. We would never think of constantly using our cell phones and never plugging them in to recharge, but that is actually exactly what we do to ourselves. One of the biggest secrets of productivity is the refueling principle of taking time off to recharge our mind and body. By taking time to rest and rejuvenate, we can actually get more done in less time when we return to the work place.

Remember that your brain is a muscle. The vast majority of us are doing mental work these days, often sitting at a desk and looking at a computer screen. We want to exercise our mental faculties to make them stronger so we read, we research, we study but we don’t stop to realize that the brain is a muscle just like our biceps, triceps and heart. If we played a hard game of ball or ran a marathon we would take time to rest our weary muscles and think nothing of it. Yet we fail to consider that the muscle inside of our cranium may be weary and in need of rest also.

Do you remember the proverb you learned as a child growing up? “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Not taking time off we can become mentally and physically drained and eventually suffer burnout. According to Project: Time Off in 2015, American employees ended the year with 658 million unused vacation days. Many probably claimed that they couldn’t find the time to take off. The answer is that you don’t “find” time you “make” time. At the beginning of your work year, sit down with a calendar and block off vacation time for the coming year. Then take it. You owe it to yourself and those you work for.

By the way, I’m letting you read this but I really wrote it for myself. You see, in a few days it will be the first week of the last month of my employment year which means I have until the end of the month to use all of my annual vacation days. I have ten days left. Either I use it or lose it.

 

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Repurposing

Posted 1-24-2018 by Arthur Meacham

Yesterday when I asked Rebecca what we were having for dinner she said “Leftovers.” When dinner time came there was a dish of pasta sitting on the stove. I told her I thought we were having leftovers but we haven’t had pasta this week. To that she said, “That’s the meatloaf we had last night. I repurposed it.”

I’m a big fan of recycling but I really love repurposing. If I can take something that was used and about to be put in the recycle bin or in the trash and make something else out of it, that’s great to me. It not only saves the landfill but it gives me something new that I would have had to purchase otherwise.

Repurposing is what I have done with the prescription bottles shown in these pictures. When the children were little and still on baby food, I would repurpose the empty baby food jars the same way, filling them with nuts, small bolts and screws. Anything in the shed that needed a container would go in a baby food jar. The only thing I didn’t like was that they were made of glass and would break if dropped on a hard surface. But these prescription bottles are made of a type of plastic which is safer.

Nearly everyone, old or young, gets a prescription now and then or knows someone who does, so this is a project we can all do. For a long time I would merely put the screws or other objects in the bottle, screw the cap on and placed it on a shelf. The only problem with this was that they turned over easily so while I would be looking for one thing, I would knock over others. I needed some way to prevent this and that’s when I came up with the idea of anchoring them to the bottom of a shelf.

I chose a 1”x8” board but whatever fits your space will work. In order to see the contents clearly and to have enough room to loosen and tighten the bottles I needed two rows with the bottle positions alternating. To do this I laid out a series of triangles with the points of the triangles at the bottom edge of the board touching each other and the apex at the opposite edge of the board. I didn’t want the bottles to extend all the way to the edge of the shelf so marked a line along the board about one inch from the edge. I then attached the bottle caps with wood screws centering them on this line and using the triangles as a guide to their placement. If you try this project and have arthritis, turn your bottle caps over so you use the screw threads on the caps rather than the child proof plastic tang. After attaching all of the bottle caps and mounting my shelf I now have a convenient and orderly location for my nuts, bolts, screws and other small objects and they won’t turn over and fall when I’m looking for the right one.

I do a lot of gardening and another repurposing project with prescription bottles that requires no construction was storing my seeds in them between seasons. The seed packets are the right size to fit in the containers without any trimming and as shown in the picture, you can read the labels through the orange colored plastic. These then fit conveniently in one of those carry trays with handles and are ready to go to the garden at planting time.

These are just a few repurposing things that I have done and perhaps they will give you some ideas for your own projects. Maybe you’ve already done some repurposing. If so, write me and tell me about it.

 

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Our Vets Deserve Better

Posted 1-17-2018 by Arthur Meacham

There are some things that really anger me. Okay, I know I’m not supposed to get angry but there is such a thing as righteous indignation and there are times when it is appropriate. So I get angry when I see a child mistreated or a spouse abused or an elderly person taken advantage of. These things bother and upset me just as they probably do you also. When I read about charity scams that were aimed at veterans it angered me. Our vets deserve better.

John Thomas Burch embezzled over $149,000 from the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation which he headed.

Elizabeth Honig worked in a VA program that was designed to train older vets for new jobs. She stole $2.8 million by signing up nearly 200 veterans for training that most didn’t receive.

John Donald Cody ran the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a fraudulent organization that stole almost $100 million from donors.

And then there are the phone scams. The Veterans Choice phone number starts with 866 but scam artist set up an 800 number to mimic it.

Shady companies are offering loans against veteran pension accounts. Monthly payments are then transferred from the pension account that in the end total far more than the original loan.

There are some charity organizations that actually help rather than hurt. They provide a needed service to the vets while maintaining a low overhead or administrative expense. In other cases only a fraction of the donations goes to help the vets while a large part is spent on salaries, parties and unnecessary conferences.

What should you do then if you want to help veterans by donating to a charity organization?

• Use the internet and run searches of the name of the charity to see if there are any complaints against it.

• Don’t make an emotional choice to give support to any organization without checking on it first.

• Never authorize an automatic monthly debit from your bank account or credit card.

Our vets deserve better.

 

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Disaster Preparedness

Posted 1-10-2018 by Arthur Meacham

As of the end of December the United States had experienced 16 weather related disasters in 2017 each with damages of more than $1 billion and the loss of 362 lives. In short, last year we had a lot of disasters. Fires, floods, storms and earthquakes, just to name a few and no doubt, we will have them again in the coming year. Not that I’m a doom and gloom sort of person, but disasters are nothing new. We read about them in the Bible and ancient literature. We may not know what will hit this year but knowing that disasters will come in some places and to some people, what should we do? The old Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared”, comes to mind. While we may not know if or when disaster will come nor what form it will come in, if we are in some way prepared for it, we will have a better chance of surviving.

Among the readers of this weekly blog are folks in public safety, others in business and still others who are ordinary citizens of all ages and backgrounds living in various parts of the country. In the short space of this article and with the diversity of readership, this is not to be an exhaustive document on disaster preparedness. Instead, I will keep it short and generic in the hopes that it will stimulate you to think deeply about the subject from your own perspective and make your preparedness plans accordingly. As you do, below are three areas that will need your attention. Your own locale and the typical disasters that happen where you are will guide you in the specifics.

• Food and water. We can do without many things but food and water are necessities. Consider those foods that are easiest to prepare or need no preparation prior to eating. Choose food items with long term shelf life and those not easily damaged by water or debris. Think of those in your family or group with food allergies. Peanuts are a great source of protein and energy but deadly to someone with an allergy to nuts. The same can be said about gluten for those with celiac disease.

• Clothing and blankets. This will greatly depend on the disaster since those in a winter blizzard that dumps multiple feet of snow will need warm coats, jackets, hats, gloves and boots while others in a hurricane, rain storm or flood would of necessity need waterproof rain gear and waders. Those with bright colors like yellow, orange, red or fluorescent yellow-green should be selected. Blankets are important for an extended stay in a shelter or confined to your home or office, especially in a power outage.

• Equipment. Flashlights and a supply of batteries in various sizes to fit every piece of battery powered equipment. Practically everyone has a cell phone these days, but in a lengthy emergency situation a power cord or one of the super-fast battery packs is essential. Be sure to have a small basic first aid kit with sample-size hygiene supplies and OTC meds like aspirin or ibuprofen and medications for nausea, diarrhea and upset stomach.

 

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Tips for Cyber Security

More than 41 million adults in the U. S. have had their identities stolen. One of the last things you want to happen to you is for you to become the victim of identity theft. So what can you do? How can you insure that your information is safe? Here are 5 tips for preventing cyber-crime against you.

• Keep your computer software up dated. Whenever a software company learns that one of its products contains a bug or piece of insecure code that could be used by a cybercriminal to launch an attack, they correct the defect and release an updated version of the software.

• Make sure you have updated antivirus software and that your computer’s firewall is turned on. The major antivirus software companies are constantly on the alert and update their software as soon as new attacks are released. To be safe, you need to apply those updates as soon as they are available.

• Online shopping has become a major part of our lives in recent years. When your cart is filled with the items you want to purchase and you start to enter your credit card information to make your payment, stop and check these two things: the web address and a padlock sign. The web address should begin with “https” which indicates it is a secure website and you should see a padlock sign that means your information is being securely transmitted.

• Don’t open suspicious email and avoid clicking on links in an email from someone you don’t know. I’ve lost count of the emails that I’ve gotten regarding my Wells Fargo bank account. I don’t have and I never have had a Wells Fargo bank account. Those emails were a phishing scam that were blasted out across the country and like the shotgun approach in marketing, some of them hit people who did have a Wells Fargo bank account but the URL links inside where you were told to enter your password sent the information to a cybercriminal, not the Wells Fargo bank.

• Avoid sending an email containing your identification information. Among the things about you that the criminal can use are your Social Security number, your driver’s license number, your birth date and your financial identification numbers such as your credit card and your bank account number.

Be safe, be cyber secure.

What would you like for us to discuss? Send it to arthur.meacham@go-pscs.com. We post a new article each week – entertaining, educational, hopefully inspirational and motivational. See you right here next time. Until then, keep the home fires burning.

 

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Will you make a difference next year?

Posted 12-26-2017 by Arthur Meacham

Will you make a difference in your own life? Most all of us have some bad habits we need to break and the beginning of a new year is a good time to start. Our ancestors lived very active lives working hard in the woods and fields, walking where ever they had to go and using hand tools for the jobs they did. By contrast, we live a very sedentary lifestyle. Many of our daily tasks are accomplished while sitting in a chair. We drive or ride to the various places we need to go. From power tools in the shop to electric appliances in the kitchen, whatever job is at hand it done with the push of a button. And at the end of the day we sit in front of the television and hear the nightly news, watch a few shows and then off to bed. The end result is that we all could use some much needed physical activity. In this New Year we are approaching, get out and go for a walk in the park, down the street or around the block. It will make a difference in your own life.

Will you make a difference in the lives of others? The poet, John Donne wrote, “No man is an island” and how true that is. We are not alone. We are not hermits. We do not live in isolation for we are all a part of mankind. What we do in our lives impacts others and what others do impacts us. Whether it be in the office, the school, the groups we meet with or in the home where we live, we have an influence on those we share our life with. Our son and two year old grandson have been staying with us lately while they are in the process of moving and waiting for their new home to be ready for them. Seeing a child that age once again has reminded me of how much like a sponge they are soaking up each new thing that comes their way, learning to say every new word they hear and doing, as best they can, everything they see us adults do. For young children are the world’s greatest imitators. This has reminded me of a phrase I heard many years ago. Watch what you say, watch what you do, Little eyes are watching you.

We are standing on the cusp of a new year. A new year is a new chance. A new chance to start over. A new chance to do something you have always wanted to do. A new chance to make a difference. How will you spend this New Year?

Write us at: arthur.meacham@go-pscs.com. We post a new article each week – entertaining, educational, hopefully inspirational and motivational. See you right here next time. Until then, keep the home fires burning.

 

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The Night Before Christmas at the 9-1-1 Communications Center

Posted 12-19-2017 by Arthur Meacham

T'was the night before Christmas, as she sat all alone, In a room made secure, full of consoles and phones. I had come down the chimney with presents to give And to see just which hero in this center did live.

I looked all around and what did I see? No tinsel, no presents, just a very small tree. No stockings by a fire, just switchboards & mics, And a few small photos of her kids riding bikes.

Amongst medals, and badges, awards of all kinds A sobering thought crept into my mind, For this room was different, so busy and bright: T'was the 911 office, and a dispatcher on "nights."

I'd heard stories about them and wanted to know more, So I walked down the hall, and pushed on the door. And there she sat with keyboards and mouse, Waiting to set tones on a well roasting house.

Her face O' so gentle, her room was abuzz, It occurred to me then that she needed a hug. Was this the hero of whom I'd read? Sitting at a console making her bread?

Though my stress was high, hers seemed to be zero And I soon understood this was more than a hero For I realized the families that I saw just that night Owed their lives to this servant who was willing to fight

Soon 'round the world, the children would play, And grownups would celebrate a new Christmas day. They all enjoyed freedom each day of the year, Because of dispatchers like her standing so near

I couldn't help wonder how many there were On a cold Christmas Eve working hard like her. Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye, I eased up beside her my heart full of pride.

The dispatcher said, as she saw my tears falling, "Santa don't worry, this life is my calling; I am the watcher: a lone, steady voice, Getting help to the helpless: my job and my choice.

With a wink and a smile she answered a call, An elderly man who'd been hurt in a fall. I watched her intently, so alert, and so quick, And I saw a slight shiver as she made a mouse click.

So I took off my jacket, thick, fluffy and red, And I covered her shoulders, her neck, and her head. I put on her sweater, which was smaller and tight, The two of us there must've been quite a sight!

Though her sweater hardly fit me, my heart swelled with pride, And for a fleeting moment I felt a kinship inside. I didn't want to leave her on that cold dark night, This guardian of honor so ready to fight.

But she kissed my cheek, and in a voice so pure, Said, "Carry on Santa. Christmas Day is secure." One look at my watch, and I knew she was right. Merry Christmas my friend, as you watch through the night.

This poem is a salute to 911 dispatchers nationwide. It was adapted from a Soldiers night before Christmas. I first saw it in “PCConnect” and wanted to share it with you. It is printed here with permission from Mike Perkins with ADSi

What would you like for us to discuss? Send it to arthur.meacham@go-pscs.com. We post a new article each week – entertaining, educational, hopefully inspirational and motivational. See you right here next time. Until then, keep the home fires burning.

 

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Can It Be Safer?

Posted 12-12-2017 by Arthur Meacham

A recent article in our local newspaper posed this question about one of our streets. The intersection of Kingston Road and LA 3 has been the scene of five car accidents this year. The most recent took the life of a vibrant 4-year-old child. What has been done to make that intersection safer? A traffic light has been installed. The speed limit has been lowered. A speed monitor that shows your speed as you approach the intersection has been set up. Extra flashing yellow lights have been installed near the intersection to warn drivers that they need to slow down.

But the question still is being posted on social media, “what can we do to make it safer?” Suggestions have been to install rumble strips, lower the speed limit even more and make it illegal to turn right at the light. But will any of these make the road any safer? I think not because the answer is not with what we can do to the road to make it safer because it’s not the road but the drivers. A case in point is all of the railroad crossings with flashing lights and cross arms blocking the traffic lanes. How many photos and videos have we seen showing drivers deliberately going around the cross arms and having their cars hit by a 200 ton locomotive that needs more than a mile to stop.

One of the streets I travel on daily has an intersection where the crossing traffic is travelling up to 45 miles per hour. The street I am on has a “no right turn on red” sign on a post as you approach the intersection and another attached to the traffic light at the intersection. Yet almost everyday someone in front of me will turn right on red into the path of that oncoming traffic.

I remember a number of years back when my oldest son was driving his restored ’67 Mustang Fastback heading north bound on Spring St near downtown Shreveport. He was in one of the two center lanes approaching the intersection of Lake St where a lane on the left and a lane on the right come off I-20 and merge into the flow of the Spring St traffic. There are plastic post between the left hand and the center lane and there are multiple signs along the left lane saying “No right turn”. None of that stopped the driver in the left lane who made a right turn at the intersection onto Lake St crossing three lanes of traffic. Fortunately, my son was not injured but his Mustang was totaled.

What can we do to make the roads safer? It has to come from within the driver. People must take responsibility and be held accountable for their own actions. It is not by the placement of some external physical object that the roads of our country are going to become safer. Rather it is when we, the operators of the motor vehicles that travel those roads decide within ourselves that we are going to obey the rules of the road, that we are going to make a concerted effort to give maximum attention to our actions as drivers and that we set aside the me first attitude in consideration of the rights, privileges and well-being of others that we will make the roads safer. Whether from education, driver training or experience, until the one behind the wheel decides that they are going to be safe, the roads will never be made safer.

What do you think?

 

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