by Annette Dashofy
It’s been thirty years since I bought my first police scanner. I bought it used. It had ten channels and I had to buy a crystal for each of those channels according to which departments I wanted to listen to. I had our local police, fire and ambulance services, as well as a weather channel.
My excuse for needing it was that I was working as an EMT and they would hail me over the scanner on those nights I was “on call.” Or if I was off duty, but there was a call close to home, I could rush out to assist the responding crew.
Eventually, I left the EMS. In time, many of the departments changed frequencies or the crystals wore out (do electronic crystals wear out?) Anyway, I was down to one or two functioning frequencies. But I clung to that scanner. Anytime I heard sirens, I’d turn on the scanner to find out what was going on.
I’m nosy. I get it from my mom.
I can’t recall when I parted with the old scanner. I think I sold it for a couple of bucks at one of our yard sales years ago.
And when I’d hear sirens, I’d curse myself for getting rid of it.
When I started my current work in progress, in which my protagonist is a paramedic/deputy coroner working on a rural ambulance and another major character is the rural township’s chief of police, I began to long for my old scanner.
I wandered into Radio Shack several months back and discovered that scanners do still exist. And no more crystals! They have a thousand channels and frequencies and you can program whichever ones you want right into the unit.
I think I paid twenty bucks for my old one (second hand, remember.) The new ones cost a bit more than that. So I started saving my pennies.
Then my hubby asked me what I wanted for an anniversary gift this year. I didn’t hesitate. MY SCANNER!
We ordered it online and it arrived last week by Fed Ex. I expected to have to do lots of programming, but it was all done for me. Just plug it in and listen to all the fascinating calls being handled by our local police, fire, and medical services.
Last night, I heard a dispatcher sending a police officer to respond to an address where two stray cats were damaging someone’s pond.
Most of it is like that. It brings back memories. I responded to hundreds of calls over the years I spent working on the ambulance. I remember about a dozen of them.
But this new scanner has offered me some insight into my own personality and quirks. For instance: I have come to the conclusion that I am a voyeur. Beyond just nosy. And I’m not proud of it.
I like knowing what’s going on. Inquiring minds and all that. So while I may claim I have this scanner to make my writing more authentic, the truth of the matter is I’m curious as hell about which of my neighbors is calling the cops to report a missing Shih Tzu with a blue collar.