Have you ever been exposed to an emergency ?
           A first-hand, in-your-face emergency ?

I have, from auto wrecks, airliner crashes, shipyard accidents, bar fights, flight deck mishaps, medical emergencies, on board fires, and refinery disasters, and boat explosions/sinkings.  In every case, an “emergency” requires quick thinking, fast response time, and equipment on site, stat !

Ever been moored out in Hong Kong ? or Los Angeles/Long Beach ? how about on the Hudson or at New Orleans ?

Places like Ft. Meyers, Roanoak, Morro Bay or Coos Bay… and even Port Angeles are not much different ... once the sun goes down, even if you are in smaller harbors than that, the overnight activity and pulse beat are all about the same, quiet. 

The crane operators, Longshoremen, shipyard workers, forklift drivers of the world “may” be out there making beeping noises and do a random container drop, or lose a plate in the drydock, but, after dark, it is over.

I preach from atop my anchor winch alot, and always rant the same laments and observations, here is a continuance: The reason Ports and Harbors are so different at night is simple… everyone went home !  That’s right, home to their dryland stick and mortar home.

The change by exodus has to be experienced, the commotion and din of noise...quits, the visual motion of people, machinery and watercraft… stops, the dock and deck lights come on, and the quiet stillness sets in.  The Wharf rats and palm squirrels join with the otters and night birds, as their time has come.

I don’t know what the day to night population percentage difference would average out to, but, possibly 95% of the daytime personnel have left the overnight watch of this entire Harbor to automatic switches, alarms, pumps and a small crew of live-boards and “duty watches”.

The Port Authority, vessel owners, and dock workers all sit at home secure knowing with a phone call 911 will bring an ambulance, the police, or a fire truck, should they have a household emergency or weird event, if their electric, water, wifi, or sewer fail, a simple phone call brings out the emergency crew.  Ashore, the population density is such that unknown passers-by can call up these services in your stead, should you be away or asleep.

Down on the waterfront, it is now a deserted, dark, unseen world of skeleton crews, or, rent-a-cop patrols, and emergency telephone numbers posted on each boat, gate, or piece of equipment… this fast-moving day time place has now gone into slow motion.

Those “emergency” phone numbers ?  if they are “no longer in service”, ringing endlessly, going to an answering machine, disconnecting, or giving “sorry this mailbox is full”, are not much different than actually making contact with a boozed-up, drugged or confused as to “why you are calling me ?” person…plus, you just wasted valuable emergency response time on the phone.  My favorite is the “Here I come !...followed by a phone slam”, after you wait 10 minutes with your finger in the dike, this one person helper arrives, becomes a basket case of confusion and unfamiliarity, but pledges to “go get help” and leaves.

Ambulance crews or fire crews locked out by a gate, not having portable pumps, an air compressor, or flotation bags, trying to bring a house call gurney down a dock instead of a stretcher (which they do not have on the truck), no pollution flotation barrier aboard, on and on.

Sadly, in most Harbor emergencies you are on your own, and sadder yet is the fact the unpreparedness and lack of response time with competent personnel and the right equipment usually ends in a total loss of life, vessel or other (disappointing-needless-actually criminal).

Preparedness requires exposure and training, repeated drills intended to uncover all of the variable and accidental screw-ups, the nuances, to what “should” be routine, but, never are when a “real” emergency arises.  Without that seasoning, and constant redundant run-through, … you “are not” prepared ! Watch the US Coast Guard crews training repeatability, over and over, let’s do it one more time, again, repeat please !

Those who work in "Emergency Services, Medical Services, and other “Services Industries” are all accustomed to working for a 24 hour Corporation that must supply around the clock service coverage, by having either three shifts, or, having an "on duty" around-the-clock person available every night, every minute of the year. There are legal liabilities and criminality fears for negligence.

In general the "Service" industry lifestyle is very demanding, when a refinery blows up, or a ship catches fire, a tornado hits, or an airplane crashes the service industry jumps to the fore, people are rattled out of their racks to begin the communications, and movement of parts equipment and people immediately.

In the Service Industries, going home at night (5PM) is nice, but you are "on call"--ALWAYS.  A blizzard in Montana wakes up and calls out the engine-transmission-truck chassis-shipping company crews thousands of miles away to lend support and hold hands for the vehicles and owners in peril.

The refinery missile attack in Syria calls out compressor-pipe-valve-controls-and construction crews immediately all over the planet... the shipping of parts, sending representatives, digging out blueprints, analyzing time-down, loss of product costs, insurance people and engineers all are awake and back at work

Living... on a boat is like being on call 24/7, the difference lies in the fact that all of your belongings and family are "here"... not safely miles away "at home" like with daytime workers, but, we too rely on the safety net of having a "Harbor911" to call.... or, are "supposed to".

Home is where you hang your hat, eat, sleep, and live... when the hot water heater ruptures in the middle of the night and floods, you are up and addressing it (whether on a boat or in your city house), when an electrical short sets fire to the kitchen, you battle it and call for help, when 8 thugs ax into your living room at 2AM, you call for help.

We rely on that help, that safety net, that service industry mentality as backup to our own skills. To ensure we have backup, we position ourselves in cities, harbors, and places where it is available.

Many of us have positioned ourselves in backup reliant conditions because of having learned our lesson on trying to be independent (and failed), or, being too old or unskilled. But, to count on a backup… 911 or otherwise that simply “is not there” is dangerous.

Unawareness, zero response, not-my-fault’s, dead phones & I’m sorries equal complacency, not emergency response.