From Cameraman to Rescueman
By Tony Buttitta
I started out in the T.V. Business during my first couple
of years of College in 1988. While attending Cal. State University,
Northridge as a Radio, T.V. and Film major I was doing freelance
work at CNN and C-Span. I worked in the studio for the most
part and quickly learned that it wasn't for me. I needed to
be where the action was. I would take in the feeds from the
CNN crews and watch how exciting their footage was and wish
that I was out there in the field recording that stuff live.
After a couple of years I earned a position as a field soundman
and was out in the news van running all over town. I still
wanted to shoot though. Finally I was given my chance to shoot
hard news in the field.
During the Gulf War lots of CNN crews where leaving town and
that gave me my opportunity and have been doing it for over
10 years now. I had reached my goal, I was driving around
town in a Microwave truck recording live news as it happens.
I thought to myself, "This can't get any better." But I was
missing something. Something inside, a feeling!
Here I was at all the same events that the Police and Firemen
were at. Risking their lives, helping society, helping the
world. Doing good. I felt like I should be doing something
that really helps people. Not just getting in their face with
a camera, in what is probably the worst day of their life.
I lived with this feeling inside for many years.
I volunteered with L.A.P.D. for a few years helping on stake
outs and looking for lost children but I just couldn't shake
this feeling of emptiness inside. I even tested with several
Fire Departments to be a Fireman and give up T.V. altogether
or at least go freelance.
I went back to school and became an Emergency Medical Technician
and worked as a medic on several sporting events. I had been
working as a staff photographer for KCOP-13 news in Los Angeles
for 9 years when I decided to become a reserve Sheriff's Deputy.
After going through a year of background investigations, Psychological
tests, a Polygraph test, several written tests and 6 months
in the reserve Sheriff's Academy on nights and weekends I
finally made it.
I am now a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's
Search and Rescue Team. Now that feeling inside me is gone.
It has been replaced with a wonderful feeling of fulfillment.
I finally feel like what I do helps people and helps the world
in my own small way. And boy has my life changed. I can't
believe the cool stuff I get to do. Rappelling out of helicopters,
riding motorcycles on dirt trails in the middle of the night
looking for lost people, hiking, desert survival, snow and
ice training and much much more.
Whether I am patrolling the streets of Los Angeles County
in a news van or a black and white, I am content with my place
in the world.
About the Author
TONY BUTTITTA is employed by KCOP as a videographer and also
works for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Search
& Rescue Team