Once again the Lake County Amateur Radio Emergency Service ( LCARES ) turned out to support the Great Florida Triathlon that was held in Cleremont, Florida on October 23, 2010.
This is an annual event that attracts triathlon participants from all over the United States as well as some foreign countries. People who choose the long triathlon course must first swim 2.4 miles, bicycle 112 miles and run a marathon of 26 miles within a prescribed time.
The LCARES volunteers were asked to provide radio communications for the event. We had fourteen ARES personnel supporting three rest stops, the communications trailer and mobile units along the routes. The trailer which housed the net control station, N4FLA, was located at the finish line in Cleremont. Our job was to assure the safety of the bicycle riders by reporting their progress through a system of rest stops, calling for the help of a mobile repair service when mechanical break downs occurred, relaying to Lake and Sumter EMS for medical problems on the course and transporting riders and bicycles back to the finish line if they had minor injuries or decided to quit the race.
The ham operators taking part in this activity contributed 122 man hours and covered 1617 miles while patrolling the race course.
This part of Florida is known as “ Florida’s Hill Country” which presented a challenge to many of the 350 bicyclists as they raced through Lake County’s scenic countryside. We had to deal with several cases of dehydration in the sunny 85 degree heat. Some of these people just rested a while ,drank a lot of water and then continued on. LCARES only had to transport five riders back to the finish area where they were checked out by the Lake and Sumter EMS. One of the things we learned was to have our mobile units stocked up with plenty of water and Gatorade to provide for those riders who were having trouble and were far away from a rest stop.
The Lake County Sheriffs Department and the Cleremont Police Department covered some of the major intersections to make sure the bike riders could cross safely and not get tangled up in vehicular traffic.
Taking part in this kind of public service activity helps the Amateur Emergency Service personnel train for the time when their expertise as radio communicators may be necessary during times of natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornados. They work as an integral part of the Emergency Management system along with other first responders.