Monday, April 22, 2019

ARES assists 5K Runners as Storm Strikes

Rusk County ARES members were on hand last Saturday when weather forced organizers of Henderson's annual Resurrection Run 5K to call the race in the middle of the event. Then the decision was made, amateur radio operators sprung into action. It was something even race officials weren't really expecting.

"When we asked [hams] to help out, I thought, 'they won't much since we never have anyone get hurt,'" said Kayla, who oversaw race preparations. "But wow! We couldn't have done it without you!"

Before the race began, ARES members were deployed to several locations along the race route to report on runners' progress and unexpected emergencies. One operator was assigned to a mobile unit driven by a race official. The National Weather Service had predicted severe weather during the day and fortunately all ARES members were trained storm spotters.

The first hour of the race was relatively eventful until a band of thunderstorm moved into the area. The net control station, run by Eric, KR5G, kept an eye on lightening strikes using equipment on loan the Rusk County Office of Emergency Management.

Finally, when the sky lit up with a strike within less than a half mile, race officials made the call; the race was done. Instantly, operators reported in on the location of runners, nearly half of which were still scattered along the race route.

The mobile unit was dispatched to pick up anyone with special needs or runners who were in open areas and most exposed to danger. Within 15 minutes, all the runners had been alerted to the danger and many had been brought back to race headquarters. 
| April 22, 2019  |