Y2K: Every day

Columnist : Albert Paschall

We’ve been hearing about Y2K for about 5 years now.  It’s really only a ridiculous conspiracy that claims that at 12:00:01 on 1/1/2000 we’ll all go back to 1900.  Right after Dick Clark drops the ball on Times Square our TV’s will go dark, our refrigerators will defrost and our telephones will be dead.  It will be the beginning of the 20th century all over again.

Personally I don’t believe any of it.  I read all about it in the tabloids while I was standing in line at the supermarket.  Y2K is a myth concocted by Bill Gates in a cyber-space conspiracy to continue to hide the Alien baby that Hilary Clinton adopted that lives in a refrigerator in a secret nursery in the White House basement.  This child is protected because it was made in Roswell New Mexico by drafting DNA from dead Aliens and mixing it with a lock of Elvis’ hair.  Y2K is a virus that the child is spreading through waves from its brain.

     Despite my doubts about the Y2K threat my wife has taken a few precautions.  We have a few extra bottles of water stashed, some candles and extra dog food.  I have ignored it.  I wasn’t in the least bit worried that my computer would crash, I bought the new one last month for its graphics.  I’ve always wanted to own six dozen flash lights and 300 batteries, so why not now?  Long underwear is back in style and everybody should have at least 42 pairs, that way you don’t have to do wash for 6 weeks.  As for the cases of wine hidden in the basement, well suppose the neighbors should drop by to celebrate the New Year, you’d want everyone to have a toast, wouldn’t you?

     But there are 64,000 real reasons in Pennsylvania not to worry about Y2K.  It’s an insurance policy guaranteed to work that’s 92% cost-free.

     It’s the state’s 64,000 volunteer firefighters and if there’s ever a term that belongs in 1900 its firefighter.  From chemical explosions to mining disasters, radiological transportation accidents to search and rescue operations, firefighters are the first on the scene of any calamity and are almost always the ones to get the job done. In Pennsylvania they volunteer their time to learn how to manage 75 natural or man made disasters and in the last minutes of this year they will be standing by.  If everything goes to hell in the first seconds of the new millennium because the silicon chips that apparently control our world call it a century causing total mayhem, our volunteer firefighters will be the first to respond.

Its more likely though that too many of them will get dragged from their warm beds in the cold, early morning to the sad task of prying broken bodies out of smashed cars because somebody had too much to drink.  But that’s not new too them.  They’re used to wasting their time and talents on our carelessness and excesses.

     These dedicated volunteers are the reason there’s no need to worry about Y2K.  They deal with it every day.  Their policy think-tank, The Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute, delivered its 21st Century Project Report last March.  It’s a comprehensive analysis of the state’s potential emergency demands.  From population shifts to building codes it covers everything including those 75 infamous disasters and how to train the people and supply the equipment needed to deal with any of them.

     Reading the PFESI report is about as exciting as reading tabloids while standing in line at the supermarket.  So don’t bother.  And don’t bother with the flashlights, batteries, long underwear or the computer.  Someday the truth will come out.  Chances are that Bill Gates owns the long underwear factories as part of the conspiracy.  But I could be wrong, and it wouldn’t be the first time.

     A little insurance wouldn’t hurt.  Pennsylvanian’s volunteer firefighters raise 92% of their funds themselves.  Whether they are selling Christmas Trees or holding their helmets out on street corners they pay their own way, too often begging the money to protect us.

     When you wake up on the first day of the new millennium with electricity and flowing water having escaped natural or manmade mayhem you’ll know that life will go on.  But someday disaster may strike you.  Protect yourself.  Find out where the nearest volunteer firehouse is and send a check with a prayer that you and your loved ones will never need them.