Friday, January 16, 2009

What we hear on the scanner

While most people would prefer a quiet, calm night.

I am quite the opposite and prefer a flurry of activity.

As part of my job, I’m required to keep an attentive ear to two our newsroom scanners. With the help of our copy desk, we typically can catch a variety of late-breaking news.

A majority of the time, we hear nothing or sporadic blasts of static (which can be be little annoying).

The typical things I listen for are “fire,” “injury accident,” and a host of other tidbits that catch my attention.

in the time I’ve covered night cops for the News-Herald, the scanner has been my best friend in tracking down breaking news; however, there have been times it’s been a source of mild entertainment.

One time in particular comes to mind.

In August, I heard something about a “boy trapped in vending machine.”

I know what you’re thinking. “Jacob, you must be daydreaming.”

I wish that was the case. After listening for a few minutes, the scanner continues to spout snippits about the incident.

The first question running through my mind was “How did the boy get in the vending machine to begin with?” More on that later.

After calling the Mentor Fire Department, they informed me the boy was released after being in the machine for 10 minutes. Luckily, he was not hurt and I assume was more embarrassed than anything.

The real kicker is how he got in.

The stuffed-toy vending machine consists of a motorized claw that drops toys down to a chute, where people can collect them through a door. The 5-year-old boy apparently crawled through the door and then must have realized he was trapped.

Having covered police and fire for two newspapers for nearly two years, I thought this was pretty unusual.

Apparently, it’s not that uncommon.

After a quick search on the Internet, I found a video clip of this girl, who apparently climbed into a similar vending machine. The incident, which happened in South Carlina, shows that the child was able to get out with help, seemingly unharmed.

The story I wrote ended up running as a brief.

My only regret is that we couldn’t use the pictures we had taken.

I guess it goes to show you never know what you’re going to hear on the scanner.

- Jacob Lammers


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