One thing I’ve noticed these days is the growing sight of ambulances, fire trucks and police cars, with flashing lights and blaring sirens, warning us that some calamity is under way.
Back in the day, the only siren to be heard would have been the one at the school, where we would practice all kinds of emergency procedures, from fires and floods to nefarious Communist plots to atomic bombs going off in New York or Washington D.C. For some reason, the tiny school desk was safe to hide under and was capable of warding off radiation due to the high-density metal used in its construction.
Back then, we only had to worry about the Russians sneaking over the North Pole in low-flying nuclear bombers to wipe out North America and every stranger who came to town was surely a Russian spy. So not trusting any white person was reinforced even more so. We already had the French, Scottish, English and Americans fighting over our turf for centuries, so another newcomer would not be met with open arms and complete trust.
Going back further, the Korean War and World War II had close skirmishes with our people. Some were readying themselves for departure at the docks in Fort George, when the word came out that the second world war was over. Whew, talk about close.
But during those times, hunting depended on lead, which had to be recycled. The lead shot was dug out of the carcasses of caribou and collected to be used over again in handmade shot shells and carbine bullets. Other materials like metals were all allocated to the war efforts, so even nails were hard to come by.
Closer to home, the present-day emergencies are usually related to man and nature, nature versus man, or man versus man. They are happening more often, so much so, that the bells and sirens are so commonplace that they become a part of our daily life. It may seem like there are more things that happen that are preventable. It seems that no matter what or how many times emergencies are avoided by prevention, they happen anyways.
The goose-hunting season (in those days, there was no goose break, you just left town) was a time when a hunter only took a gun, some shells, an axe, a teapot and some tea-leaves. He would be either paddled or walked to the hunt, and the entire day was spent outdoors without mishap. There was no bush radio or satellite phone to save the day, and no helicopter, just in case.
If anything did happen, well, the bush provided all the medicines needed to fix you. Today, an entire system to deliver you to a waiting doctor or nurse is at your beck and call. The sirens going and lights flashing, the planes readying for takeoff in the middle of the night, the oxygen mask and comfy stretcher to ensure your complete safety.
In many ways, we are lucky to have all these amenities. But in some ways, it just makes us take more risks than necessary, to take things to the edge of safety and believe it or not, we take it for granted that we can be rescued from our own mishaps.