EDITOR: I am truly saddened by the tragic loss of 19 firefighters in Arizona. As a retired firefighter, the death of any of my sisters or brothers in the line of duty brings the reality of life-danger involved in our chosen profession back to me. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
I believe there is a message for us all in this. While we do not know now, and may never know completely, what transpired on that fire line, I have to wonder about the cellphone communications between at least one of the crew members and his family ("Fire was 'perfect storm' for 19 Hotshots," Sunday). Staying in contact with our families is very important while deployed for weeks on end. However, being present to notice the subtle change in weather and fire conditions is not facilitated by texting family and friends.
The only use a phone has on the fire line is to stay updated with fire-specific information. This may be a tragedy that could have been averted, but if we take away one lesson, it will not have been in vain: Be present and stay present.
Talking and driving
EDITOR: Margaret Carlson's column on texting and talking in a moving vehicle ("Texting, talking even if it kills us," June 30) was right on the mark — to a point.
I support state laws against texting and using a hand-held phone while driving, actions that are dangerously distracting. Talking, with hands on the wheel, however, should not be illegal. I'm sure that Carlson was referring to hands-free telephones when urging that no talking be allowed. Drivers have been talking to their passengers since cars first hit the road. A careful, conscientious driver can carry on a conversation with a fellow passenger or a caller on a hands-free phone without jeopardizing safety.
If a driver can't do that, he or she shouldn't be driving.