‘Tweet-Along’ shadows firefighters for a shift
Evanston Fire Chief Greg Klaiber (pointing) says the department welcomes the chance to get word out about what the department does. (Bob Seidenberg\Staff Writer)
Updated: September 3, 2012 6:18AM
Adelita Hernandez didn’t grow up wanting to be a firefighter but at least for the day, she’s the eyes and ears of the Evanston Fire Department.
Hernandez, the city’s citizen engagement coordinator, is giving residents a bird’s-eye view of what its like to be an Evanston firefighter-paramedic today, July 27, riding with Engine 21 on calls and then tweeting back on what she sees and hears. The “5-Alarm Tweet-Along” started at 10:30 a.m. Friday and continues until 10:30 p.m.; visit twitter.com/CityofEvanston.
Barely an hour into her stint, Hernandez tweeted “possible fire, call comes in at 7:56 a.m., guys, gear up and check home in question. Alarm was set off by kitchen smoke.”
She quickly had a follow-up.
“Crew comes back from call & they’re promptly dispatched again. Caller reported leg pain. Ambulance 21 transports subject to hospital.”
Along with the Tweets, Hernandez has been posting photos, videos later on (hey, if the Fire Department doesn’t want her, the newspaper business hungry for 24 hours will sign her up), shadowing the department.
Residents can respond with questions on the interactive site if they want.
Taking a short break at Fire Station No. 2, Hernandez, 28, said the goal of the first Tweet Along was to acquaint the public with what firefighters do.
That includes “their different kinds of calls, how much manpower it takes when you have a false alarm for a fire, all the kind of prep work they do.”
For instance, “they get here an hour before they are supposed to start, sometimes an hour and a half or two,’’ she said. “They have all these methods (they have to check) when an engine goes with an ambulance.”
In one early morning stop, firefighters checked out a water problem. Riding over to Twiggs Park in northwest Evanston, the crew washed off the hose and then performed a flow test, making sure it met standards.
“It’s not an easy job,” Hernandez said, “and I think a lot of us, myself included, don’t really know what it entails to be a firefighter.”
Evanston Fire Chief Greg Klaiber, standing alongside, said he appreciated the exposure.
“We kind of embraced social media, with a Facebook page, with a website, of course,” he said. “But anything we can do to improve our communications with the community and let them know what we’re doing. I’m all for it.
“Many people just think we respond to fires and get fires out. We do a lot more than that. She’s witnessing that today.”