Written by Keegan Van Hook
A few hours after the Almeda Fire started burning through Talent and Phoenix, the SBM crew and I took it upon ourselves to start an emergency information broadcast from Jackson County's public access TV station, Rogue Valley Community Television (RVTV). We didn't exactly get overt permission to do this, but Miles is a student employee, as was I, and with little to no emergency communication coming from the government's EAS system or mainstream news outlets, we felt it was something that had to be done.
Our broadcast was pretty simple-- just slides with information from Jackson County Emergency Management's Facebook page, live evacuation map, and other government sources. We played some "Lo-Fi Beats to Relax and Study to" in the background, with the Jackson County police and fire scanner interrupting with the occasional radio chatter.
Thankfully, despite us doing this without approval, it turns out it was the right move. The higher-ups at RVTV, Joe Brett and Brandon Givens, were pleased with what we had done, and we got great feedback from the community as well. Now, there is a small movement growing within the RVTV public access producer pool to establish a more official protocol for emergency communications to come out of RVTV when a crisis hits us again in the future. Ideally, the next time something like this happens, it will be "by the book" and involve more people, enabling a far more comprehensive style of emergency broadcast. I really look forward to seeing what comes out it.
I'm really proud of what we did, and I'm really proud of my crew mates for being on board from the get-go, and carrying it through with me for a little over a full week. It was a long haul, but I think it was the best thing our crew could have done with its time during the crisis. It's really nothing compared to the work of firefighters and other first-responders... but we don't have that training. So, it was nice to be able to do something that felt helpful instead of having to simply wait out the situation.
We are blessed to have been able to do this. We were lucky to have been sparred from the fire and fortune to have access to the technology necessary to do this. It may not be this way in the future, but in the meantime I'm thankful that Tripp, Miles, and I were able to have a role to play.
On the last day of our foray at RVTV, when little was changing and the fires were on a downward trend, we enjoyed ourselves in the studio adjacent to the control room we had been camped out in, and took the head shots you see below.
Thanks to all those who assisted us with even the small things, like snacks and Red Bull, and the big things, like information, advice, and encouragement. I hope a need for something like this never again rolls our way... but this is real life we're living in. So, until next time: good luck, stay safe, and have a great day.
KEEGAN VAN HOOK
producer, host, editor manager
producer, first camera, creative assistant, editor
producer, logistics, researcher, host/personality