Every year, South Plainfield holds a parade to observe Labor Day. It has done so for more than 50 years now; and the South Plainfield CERT teams have been helping out with communications for the last five years.
Yesterday, my responsibilities involved shadowing the chief parade marshal / parade organizer making sure that information flowed in and out as needed. In addition to that, I sort of became involved as a parade marshal myself. It was kind of funny in a way, as I was placed in the area of town where the parade was being staged; and I had a clipboard and a radio. I guess people saw the radio and the clipboard and immediately assumed I was "in the know". Fortunately, the paperwork provided by the parade organizers was well thought out; and it was easy to tell people where they belonged in the parade lineup.
Instead of using a 2 Meter simplex frequency,as we have in the past, we used Middlesex County's OEM repeater which is on 440.800 MHz and is located high atop the County Building in not distant New Brunswick, NJ. We had excellent coverage using handheld transceivers; and fortunately,except for having to communicate parade lineup changes to the reviewing stand, there were no emergencies. One spectator, an older gentleman, became a little light headed and disoriented; and we were very lucky to have a unit from the Milltown Rescue Squad standing by at the marshaling area. After sitting down for a few seconds, he claimed to be feeling better and declined transport to a local medical facility.
I became a CERT member in 2004; and thank the Lord, we have had no huge emergencies in South Plainfield where our time and talents have been needed on a true emergency basis. Our involvement has mostly been in providing support during civic events. That does not mean, however, that we have not been keeping up our skills. The head of our Office of Emergency Management, Michael Zushma, keeps the teams up to date with training on such topics as sheltering, distribution of medicine and medical supplies in the event of a biological terrorist event, and even training on the "possible" H1N1 pandemic.
South Plainfield has done a fantastic job training citizen volunteers through the CERT program. I am proud to be a member of CERT and RACES for the town; and ARES for the county. It's all about giving a little back for all the enjoyment I have received from Amateur Radio throughout the years.
73 de Larry W2LJ