Saturday, May 31, 2008

No doubt about it ..... people are amazing!

This morning, I got the opportunity to put on my CERT hat and vest to help the Police in my town.

A little background is in order, I suppose. Every year, South Plainfield hosts the New Jersey High Schools Statewide Track Meet. We're located very centrally in the state; and just about every major highway in the state is more or less a stone's throw away from South Plainfield. So you can imagine the havoc as just about every high school in the state of New Jersey sends their Track & Field team to our little town.

Parking is handled at the high school field itself; as well as the nearby Community Pool parking lot and the nearby Police Athletic League building parking lot. Even adding these, there's nowhere enough parking, so it spills off onto local side streets.

It takes a lot of manpower to get through this; and the CERT Teams in town have been helping out since we first formed up back in 2004. My job was to stay at the top of the road that runs along the athletic field, which had been made a One Way street for the event; and not allow cars access. The idea here was to allow better access for the School Buses that would be dropping off and picking up student athletes throughout the day.

For the most part, people were good natured and cooperative. There were exceptions, however. Boy, where there exceptions!

I've never been sworn at by a female coach before. She came barreling down the road, trying to gain access to the field. I stopped her car at the point of "No Entry" which was only about 150 feet or so from the admission gate.

"Why are you stopping me?"

"Ma'am, this is a one way street at this point. You can't go down this way".

"But I'm a coach and I'm late!"

"Sorry about that Ma'am; but you can't go down the street. You can park here and get out and walk the rest of the way; but you can't drive down this street."

"Says who? Are you with the Police?"

"Ma'am, I'm with the Office of Emergency Management. The police have given me the task of traffic control at this point".

"Well, I don't care who you are".

Next thing I know, she hurls a few expletives my way and drives right past me - going the wrong way down a One Way street. Then, the next thing I saw was a Police Officer asking her (very loudly) why she didn't listen to what the man wearing the green vest had told her. By the time all was said and done, she was REALLY late and a probably a lot embarrassed. She was lucky that all that happened was that she got a lecture by the police and wasn't issued a summons for a moving violation. That would have cost her a nice chunk of change.

Most people complained about having to park so far away from the event and having to walk. To me that was extremely funny coming from folks who were about to observe an athletic event that features running. I guess it just goes to prove that you don't have to be in shape to watch people who ARE in shape do their thing. Oh, and by the way, no one had to park more than about 4 or 5 blocks away from the event.

Amateur Radio played a big role as those of us who were on traffic detail are all Hams and RACES operators. Although this wasn't a RACES event, we all kept in touch with each other on 2 Meter simplex rather than tie up the Municipal radios we were given. Plus were were able to switch our HTs over to the NOAA weather frequencies to keep tabs on a line of severe thunderstorms coming through the area. Sure enough, we were able to give the Police and Track and Field organizers about a half hour's warning that a squall line was about to move through. And it came through right on time! We all got drenched in the process; but we were able to move the athletes and spectators to safety in an orderly and safe manner.

It's a good thing that my Alinco HT is gasketed against moisture; because by the time I got home, I pretty much had to wring it out.

73 de Larry W2LJ


  1. Larry,
    Yeah, traffic control can be fun. We have a 5K run that we cover with Queens ARES. It crosses a major local road, and NTPD and ARES work traffic - in this case, about 1/2 block apart, as we are just closing the crossing, and we do open/close the road as needed

    I've had that same "are you a police officer" deal, my usual answer is - "No, but as you can see, the barricade line is NYPD (they are labeled), and when you get across the street to exit, you WILL find an NYPD officer"

    That usually handles the situation

    Of course I did have one guy pull up in a personal car, and 'tin' me, my answer was "yes sir, please be careful of the runners"

  2. I used to do traffic management in the United Kingdom, I still have my Chapter 7, for closing lanes etc.
    I always wore HiVis clothing and had a large Van with Warning beacons and all the signage that you would expect but there is always someone that seems to have a problem if their route is blocked, Its life.
    Anyway I stopped doing this job after a very close miss with a Truck, the driver stopped to check on me, and amitted that he had been using his cellphone, and saw me at the last minute.
    I am a Amateur Radio operator myself and used to help out at the local events when possible, but I am now living in Poland.
    By the way, my car is from New Jersey some place called Sumit, it has a SummitNJ badge on the rear. must have come from a VW dealership, how it got to Poland I dont know.
    John, M3ZVW, 161OG01A Division 161