Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rescue Me

CERT team practicing leveraging and cribbing

Since the motto for the Amherst Community Emergency Response Team team seems to be, "Rescue the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time" I have to wonder what a specialized CERT team might have done if they were aboard that South Korean ferry last week where chaos and a bad decision led to the deplorable deaths of 300, mostly teen-aged high school students.

Last night the team -- and we are becoming a team -- took on the task of search and rescue.  Again the safety of the team comes first, so if the initial sizeup of the situation indicates a building too badly damaged to enter then you simply do not enter.

Even if a victim is inside calling for help, the best you can do is try to keep them calm by reassuring them help is on the way. Rushing in where angels fear to tread can do more harm than good, adding to the burden of the professional first responders who are sure to arrive.

Upon entering a light or moderately damaged building CERT members (who always work in teams) leave a chalk mark on the exterior indicating time of entry.  Upon completing the search another notation is left to confirm what they found and that they made it safely out of the building.

CERT members cannot pronounce someone dead, but as part of a triage if all signs indicate death then you simply move on to try to help the living.  The injured need to be removed from unsafe conditions as quickly as possible.

Archimedes once said, "Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth."  Using the principles of a simple lever, large heavy objects can be moved.   Other team members use "cribbing" (wooden blocks) to place under the object to keep it raised off the victim.

Once the injured party is safely removed from the debris the team needs to carry them out of harms way.  A simple blanket carry allows up to six team members to assist, although in this case the load was not all that heavy.

Last night marked the half-way point for the CERT program and the enthusiasm level is still as high as it was on day one. 

Instructor Michael Williamson confirmed he will be teaching another 6 week session in the Fall but will be offering a class introduction next Thursday in the UMPD community room.

If you're interested, email him at:  (before disaster strikes!)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

DUI Dishonor Roll

Roadside memorial to Dan Haley, Rt. 116, Hadley

Last week marked the two year anniversary of the tragic death -- some would consider "murder" -- of Daniel Haley, 24, killed by wrong-way drunk driver Brittini Benton only a month before he was set to graduate from UMass with a degree in chemical engineering. 

For Benton it was her second offense at drunk driving.

 Click to enlarge/read

Last weekend (Easter Sunday morning no less) Amherst police arrested Jesse Bollinger, age 29, for allegedly drunk driving at around the same early hours of the morning that Dan Haley was killed.  It was also his second offense.  

He was arraigned In Eastern Hampshire District Court on Tuesday, and his case was continued until May 1st so he could hire an attorney. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The R Word


I guess if you say it often enough it becomes true to a lot of people.  Are the venerable Amherst schools guilty of "institutional racism?"  And by extension, the entire community.   Really? 

How about the black on white racism/bullying that occurred last January?  A regrettable incident the schools completely mishandled because it did not fit their politically correct concept of racism.

To this day the bullied white youth is still not back in school, while all three of his tormentors have been back almost since day one. 

Meanwhile, the teacher of color (Carolyn Gardner) who was targeted by alleged racist "threats" left in bathrooms has a full-time guard assigned to her while carrying out her duties on school grounds. 

Mr Hood laments an overly white Town Meeting but he fails to mention an even bigger demographic rift -- the age gap.  Amherst has the lowest median age in the state (22) because of "college aged youth," while Amherst Town Meeting could easily be mistaken for a senior center social.

The Amherst School Committee, of which he is a member, is 80% white.

Branding the public schools and the entire community "racist" because of the misguided attention seeking actions of a unknown perp is exactly the kind of overreaction the troll is seeking.

And trolls come in all colors.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Green Developments

Trolley Barn, Cowls Road, North Amherst

Resembling book ends, two three-story developments are almost in the same stage of completion. Amherst Office Park in South Amherst sports a new 30,000 square foot building and the 12,000 square foot Trolley Barn in North Amherst (on Cowls Road) both show off their vibrant green Zip system insulation on this perfect Spring day.

Amherst Office Park, West Street, South Amherst

Hard To Forget

Amherst's famous commemorative flags honoring Patriot's Day

If you were there as it happened or simply watched as the visuals first started rolling in, the scenes becomes permanently etched in memory:  those unmistakable sounds, smoke rising, chaos, people screaming, the wail of emergency vehicles reverberating off multi-story buildings, punctuated by a fear of the unknown.  Who did this and why?

For "college aged youth" currently attending our esteemed institutes of higher education in one of the best college towns in America, Patriots Day will forever be remembered, because last year terrorists unleashed death and destruction in the heart of Boston.

Especially since it occurred at an event that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit, in a sport many still consider "pure".

And in patriotic Massachusetts, where pretty much everyone considers Boston, "our fucking city."

So flying the commemorative flags in downtown Amherst to remind us all of the terror we endured that day is hardly necessary.  We remember.  We always will.

Just as flying those same commemorative flags on 9/11 is unnecessary if done simply to remind us of the horrific destruction unleashed on our homeland that awful morning.  How could any of us possibly forget?

But what if you were only 5-years-old and shell shocked adults sheltered you from the devastating images live streaming out of Manhattan, Washington D.C. and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania?

This coming September the incoming 5,000+ freshman at our Colleges and University will, for the most part, have been only five years old on the morning of 9/11/01 -- too young to remember the chaos, sorrow and sheer terror that covered our country like a coroner's sheet.

Induced by the worst attack on American soil in our entire fucking history.

The commemorative flags are not scheduled to fly in downtown Amherst until 2016, to remember the 15th anniversary.   And then not again until 2021 for the 20th anniversary, when the incoming freshmen classes will not even have been born on that ignoble day.

Thus, collectively, the malicious memory starts to fade -- like Pearl Harbor.  And then suddenly, some fine morning as we busily go about our daily routine, it happens.  Again.

Flying the commemorative American flags in downtown Amherst every 9/11, as we do every Patriot's Day (and Memorial Day), will serve to honor the memory of 3,000 slaughtered innocent Americans and to remind us that evil exists.  It will always exist.

And without vigilance, evil triumphs.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Farmers Market Marks The Big 43

Amherst Farmers Market Spring Street parking lot

The weekly Amherst Farmers Market opened for business Saturday, a sure sign spring has arrived.

As for Amherst institutions the weekly Sunday afternoon anti-war vigil in town center dates back a bit further, to 1966, but since they took a hiatus from 1973-1979 the Amherst Farmers Market 43 continuous years in operation sets them apart.

The Farmers Market seemed less crowded this afternoon than usual, but it may take a while for consumers to get used to them being back in operation after a l-o-n-g winter.

Also, some aficionados for locally grown food may have adopted All Things Local as their go to place since it opened last November.  And since it's a bricks and mortar operation, bad weather is never a concern.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gimme Shelter

 New shelters have large signage and overhead lighting

The Amherst DPW has installed shelters to enclose the parking payment machines around town, making the system a tad more user friendly.  The town switched over to the machines (which take credit cards) in the winter of 2011, but to a rough start.

 All around DPW installing machines in the downtown on Thursday

The directions were a tad confusing -- especially since the machines do not spit out receipts -- and the tiny screens, which are not backlit, especially hard to read at night. 

The shelters cost $13,000 but since the system generates $8,500 per week in parking meter fees, they should pay for themselves in only a couple weeks.