Last week we held another in a series of emergency management meetings, sited this time in Tokeland, regarding tsunami evacuation planning. The focus of this effort is to provide a chance to combine the knowledge and databases of a team of scientists from the University of Washington with the experience and common sense of local residents to brainstorm strategies to mitigate our tsunami dangers. I look forward to attending these meetings; listening and learning. As I drove out to Tokeland I was thinking about the similarities and differences I might hear tonight between the plans we had developed in Ocean Park last month in a similar meeting. My mind ran over the entire county evacuation planning with issues spiraling larger and larger as I mentally prepared for questions I might encounter.
I was about five minutes out from the community meeting, right on time, when dispatch put the call out. It wasn't a felony crime. Nothing exciting to have dispatch call the meeting and let all the attendees know that their sheriff would be a little late because he was handling a bank robbery or a serious assault. It was, though, a call everyone dreads. A cow on the roadway. Only this one was worse. It was a "bull on the roadway." My deputies were sharp. Before I could even reach for my microphone, they answered up to being out of the area and involved in a prisoner transport making them "unavailable" for the call. I was, however, in the right place at the right time, as the bull came into view shortly afterwards about a mile away from my meeting. Timing is everything.
I stopped and asked dispatch to contact Denise Rowlett, our Emergency Management deputy director, to let her and the citizens at the meeting know I would be late, as I had to handle a call for service. OK, it's true that I never told them all the details.
There I was. The giant bull was grazing contentedly on the grass alongside the road. I activated my emergency lights to warn motorists of the possible hazard of creating a couple thousand burgers with the grill of their vehicle. I thought, use your police skills. I had dispatch attempt contact with the owner, who had been identified by the numerous calls reporting the situation. They tried, no one home. My next thought was, this is a state highway, call the patrol. No luck; their trooper, according to their dispatch, was enroute to an accident somewhere else. I began to think that this was all a plot. State did finally say that they would call a fish and wildlife agent in Westport who would help.
As I waited, the bull noticed me and moved away from the fence line towards the highway. I might as well admit it. I'm afraid of animals larger than me. Horses and cattle can somehow immediately sense this. I thought about honking or hitting the siren but decided against it. With my luck, it would have stampeded him right onto the roadway. So I sucked it up, got out of the car, and began walking towards him, kind of waving my arms trying to herd him at least back to the fence line.
I made a mistake, though. I made eye contact. I instantly got the same feeling that I'd experienced years ago on the gridiron when I thought that staring down Dick Butkus prior to blocking him was a good idea. You know, letting him know you weren't intimidated. It was a bad idea then. It also didn't work now. As I jogged back to the car I noticed several cars parked nearby and people laughing. I asked them to move along.
Long story short, fish and wildlife arrived and kept the bull off the roadway while I drove to the owner's home and finally located him to retrieve the animal.
I hurried to the meeting which had already started. When I walked in I mumbled something about sorry that I was late but I had to handle a call. Everyone laughed as each had seen the animal as they were driving to the meeting. I gave them a Reader's Digest version. The person in charge summed it all up best saying, "Sheriff, that sounds like a lot of bull." He certainly was. We had a good meeting. Have a great week.