Entrusting security of a large bluegrass music festival to volunteers is an act of faith; handing us 2 way radio equipment gave us the power and connection to do the job right. For the price of a few day shifts and at least one overnight watch until sunrise, we security volunteers got to enjoy some of the finest concerts and classes in a beautiful mountain setting. When disaster struck — twice — we didn’t need extensive training to be effective, just a fully charged battery.
First Challenge: Nice Guys Slide Off Dirt Roads
The first disaster was minor but challenging. A courteous pickup truck driver had moved over for oncoming traffic on a hillside dirt access road and slid off the edge just enough to get stuck. Calling for a tow was a perfect use of our radios that otherwise would have required sending a runner back down to the main tent. As the tow truck positioned itself to lift the truck back onto the road, we found a second radio use: solving problems by committee remotely!
Since no one outranked another, we wound up addressing the problem from several angles: “the road is blocked,” said one, “halt the cars coming up.” “I don’t have authority to control traffic,” said another. “There’s no turning around, so they’ll all be stuck if you don’t,” said the first. In the end, with quick radio communication instead of breathless runners doing a relay, a dead-end country traffic jam was avoided and the truck was rescued.
Second Challenge: Set Them Up and Blow Them Down
As if that wasn’t excitement enough, on another festival day a mountain thunderstorm descended with hurricane-force winds. By the time the blow was over, camping and performance tents were scattered and destroyed, the entire area was drenched, and nearly every portable restroom was knocked over. The practical people running the event organized crews, called the restroom vendor, and went about setting everything right.
The festival proceeded with minimal interruption from the storm: the radios not only made recovery possible, but made getting back on track effective and timely. It’s a good thing we had plenty of radios and volunteers to coordinate the activities. We got updated information to performers and attendees, and responded to issues requiring executive decisions or medical assistance as quickly as possible.
In addition to keeping the festival going, ensuring everyone’s health and safety, and streamlining decision processes, using radio gave the festival a professional appearance with a large contingent of lightly trained volunteers. Event attendees could enjoy their week of mountain music and head home feeling that the organizers had great acts on stage and a team they could trust behind the scenes. Our teamwork contributed to a solid event reputation and growing attendance numbers year to year.
In a remote area where cell phone users had to find a good spot to get a connection, 2 way radios were the perfect solution for making festival volunteers efficient and effective. Bad luck and bad weather was no match for a dedicated crew that could work together over the airwaves. For the lonely overnight watchman role, the radio was a reassurance that he wasn’t alone watching over the festival fans under the starry mountain sky.