The Mast-Head: Not Quite in the News

When these organizations say they need more volunteers, they aren’t kidding

   Among the rewards of small-town newspapering are the little tidbits you learn about things that are not really news but are fascinating or amusing or heartbreaking nonetheless.
    On the serious side of the ledger, there are the ambulance calls we hear on the office emergency-frequency radio. Sometimes the call is from the home of someone we know; other times, they are strangers. On Monday, I listened with increasing anxiety as a request for transportation to the hospital for a badly dehydrated elderly woman in Springs initially went unanswered.
    Usually, South Fork volunteer ambulance squads send out a mutual-aid broadcast fairly rapidly to get help to the scene from other jurisdictions when necessary. Sometimes, no one is available for what seems like an interminable period, as it was with the Springs call.
    Sometimes, I think the public forgets that all the fire and ambulance crews out here are made up of volunteers, many of whom have jobs, families, and responsibilities they constantly must balance with their emergency duty. When these organizations say they need more volunteers, they aren’t kidding.
    Eventually on Monday, an unfamiliar ambulance first-responder’s vehicle raced east past our windows, from Southampton, it appeared. Privacy rules being what they are, we are likely to never know how things turned out for this woman.
    As to the lighter side, I spoke briefly on Monday with Terry Hickey, who phoned to ask that The Star list a community breakfast at East Hampton’s Episcopal Church in a little over a week. After some back and forth about the details, I said something about burned pancakes. Terry said she took the griddle rejects home as treats for her pet parrot. She puts them in her freezer, she said, and when she takes one out to leave on a kitchen counter overnight to thaw, the bird gets excited and very vocal. Not much goes to waste, Terry said.
    Neither the story about the Springs woman’s distress nor Terry Hickey’s parrot will likely make the paper, this column notwithstanding. Things come up to move them out of contention for space — local government doings must be reported, and so on. As most weeks go, the staff here knows of a lot more that is going on than shows up on the page. I, for one, wish sometimes we could just cover it all.
    But then, with as many stories as there are people (and parrots, apparently), no one would have the time to read anything else.