A Cyber Muse story

First Responder Blues

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright April 2015



Disasters are about the unexpected. This means that humans will stay involved in disaster recovery much longer than they stay involved in the routine and well-planned manufacturing and service activities that are the foundation of Big Business.

This is a tale of humans staying involved in keeping their community healthy and prosperous by helping recover from the surprises cyber can't respond well to.

The Story

They don't call us First Responders for no reason. When Mother Nature, or humans, or even cyber sometimes, seriously muck things up, and the infrastructure grid stops responding, we are there, Johnny-on-the-spot, to contain the problem and save the people that can be saved. Once the fuckup is contained then the cyber and disaster relief people can get in and restore the grid as quickly as possible.

That's what I and my mates do. We're first. We deal with the unknown and make it known again. When the situation is understood, and contained, we get followed by the disaster relief people. They provide longer-term stuff like regular food and shelter. And the cyber repair crews put it all back together again, good as new.

That's what happens. Sometimes is simple and straightforward -- like some whacked-out arsonist torching an abandoned house -- and then there are the other times...


There was the time we responded to a kitchen fire. We got there, came in the front door, and sure enough there were flames in the kitchen. But when we put water on them, they just lapped it up like a thirsty dog. The chief saw this and said, "Whoa! Everyone out!" We hustled out and, sure enough, four minutes later the entire house collapsed into a swirl of flames. It turned out what was burning was the entire basement, it was just coming out through the kitchen. I'm sure happy the chief was as experienced as he was, and on his toes when we went in. The house, by the way, was off-grid by then, of course, so the cyber didn't have a clue, either.

These are the kinds of surprises we have to deal with.


That house one was small. On the big side there was that volcano erupting a couple years back. That was a fine mess! The ash cloud was collapsing roofs and dish towers right and left, and the ash still in the air was screwing up radio communication. That was the low-down ash. The high-up ash was mucking up airplanes and drones, and visibility. No one could see what was happening.

We First Responders were in there with our suits and gas masks and getting people out. The big worry while we were in there was whether one of those ash cloud eruptions would turn pyroclastic and burn and blow us all away. The observers were watching for that. It was no walk in the park, I'll tell you! But we saved about two hundred lives that day. I think it was worth it.


This latest one is a doozy, but in a totally different way. <sigh> It's not Mother Nature in our way, it's people. There's this wacked-out, back to nature, cult group living in an abandoned theme park west of here. The trouble started when our boys came out to do a routine inspection of their building monitoring system.

Their cult leader responded with, "Building monitoring system? We don't have one of those. It is part of the evil of modern civilization."

The inspector said, "That may be, but if you have a building in this county you have to have one."

"It wasn't here when we came."

"That's because this place was abandoned twenty years ago. Times, and regulations, have changed."

"Well... we aren't living in the buildings. We are living in tents outside them."

The inspector looked over the cult leader's shoulder. It was a blatant lie, but it sounded like a good "Yes, but..." to the cult leader.

The inspector made a note in his communicator, then asked the cult leader, "Do you have a communicator?"

"No. They are evil."

"OK. I've issued you a warning. I'll have the office send you a hard copy. You have a week to get this fixed."

And the inspecting team headed back to the office. This having humans do inspecting was a pretty rare event. The drones had reported new activity in the area, that's why they came out at all.

It turned out a building monitoring system was far from the only essential not in those buildings any more. Another was water. Those weirdos were hauling in water from a well. That was crazy, but building the camp fire inside one of the buildings was even more crazy, and, sure enough, it got out of control. We were back two days after the inspection putting out a blaze that had spread to three buildings. We had to pull twenty cult members out of that inferno. It was pure luck for those cultists that a nearby crop drone had reported a screwy-looking forest fire, and that report had gotten to us quickly.

Whew! It is just crazy what some people do these days. Here's what I have to say about that particular screw-up: If you want to be a back-to-nature cult member, grow up on a dirt-poor farm. That way you'll have some common sense about dealing with "mom".



--The End--