A fun-filled Fourth and Facebook frustrations
By Col. Edward C. Rothstein
This week, I'm sharing a "thank you" to everyone that made our post celebration one of the most fun-filled and spectacular Fourth of July celebrations in the region.
Despite the stifling heat, it was good to see so many families enjoying an afternoon of free rides, games, music and food on the parade field before our annual fireworks show. Staffs from the Directorates of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and Emergency Services did their part to make the day and night both enjoyable and safe.
The only disappointment for me occurred when I got word that Bo, the Fort Meade firedog, had bolted from the firehouse after being frightened during the fireworks. You might have read my post on Facebook asking everyone to keep an eye out for him.
Bo's story does have a happy ending. A good Samaritan found Bo on a local highway the next morning and, with the help of a Maryland state trooper, returned him to the firehouse. I'm not sure if she read my Facebook post about Bo being lost, but it was good to see him back at the firehouse.
One of the best things about Facebook is how easily it allows us to communicate with others on and off post.
Speaking of Facebook, we will have another social media town hall later this summer. As many of you know, these social media town halls are a way for you to ask questions, voice concerns and provide Team Meade with feedback about all things Fort Meade.
Like many of us, I'm on Facebook all the time. I read your posts, look at photos and, sometimes, respond to comments and join the conversation.
There are other times, however, when I think Facebook or Twitter makes it too easy for some individuals to air their grievances.
It seems like more people are using social media -- including the Fort Meade Facebook page -- as their preferred method of communicating their frustration when other customer-service vehicles might be more appropriate.
Our recent power outage is a good example.
I do not believe using social media as a communications vehicle for public humiliation aimed at service providers is the right thing to do when things don't go as planned. I know our service providers work hard to return service to normal. And sometimes, disruptions occur longer than any of us would like.
But there are other ways to let us know you have a power outage or a question about service. And before I step out too far on this subject, believe me I know that sometimes, the frustrations are understandable. I'm just voicing a little concern today and hoping we can try to avoid always venting our frustrations on Facebook.
There are other ways to report a problem, find a resolution to a problem or get the customer service we think we deserve.
I know we live in a world where we expect instant responses to our complaints. But sometimes, phone calls, emails, letters or face-to-face meetings make more sense.
On another note, we are nearing the mid-point of our "101 Critical Days of Summer" campaign. Our goal is to reduce or eliminate preventable mishaps this summer by keeping safety at the forefront, on and off duty.
This week, I am highlighting the National Weather Service summer campaign, "Beat the Heat, Check the Back Seat." The campaign is a safety reminder about kids and the dangers of leaving children unattended in a hot vehicle.
According to the Department of Geosciences, San Francisco State University, there have been 10 deaths of children due to hyperthermia (heat stroke) after being left in hot cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. In 2011, there were at least 33 juvenile vehicular-hyperthermia fatalities.
It goes without saying, these are needless tragedies. Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, not even for a minute! If you see a child unattended in a hot vehicle, call 911.
Let's continue to make good decisions this summer. Stay focused on safety.
Have a great week!
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Col. Thomas S. Rickard
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