Chief Deputy Sheriff Greg Logan of the Woodbury County Police Department, Iowa, was sitting at his family dinner table when he received an urgent call. A deadly tornado had touched down near the Nebraska border, and a police sergeant from a nearby department was phoning for help.
“The sergeant explained the dire situation, and we responded immediately. There was no question we were going to help.” The deadly tornado had touched down at 7:35 p.m. on that Wednesday, June 11, hitting the Little Sioux Scout Camp where 93 scouts between 13 and 18 years old were staying. Four had perished, and 40 others were injured.
“We knew that traffic safety issues would be significant already, and so immediately I thought of the instALERT® sign we had been evaluating. We had gotten it literally just a few days prior to the situation, but were already confident that it would be of incredible value.
At the scene, the weather conditions and circumstances were extremely challenging at all levels. But in driving rain and blowing winds, we set the instALERT® up in under five minutes-all with no formal training and only having had the sign in possession for less than three days.
We positioned the sign before the long, gravel section of the two-lane road leading back to the boy scout camp. We needed to keep the public from getting onto that gravel road-for their own safety and to keep them from interfering with rescue efforts. We gave motorists quick, specific information on three screens: STOP. ROAD CLOSED. NO ENTRY.
Despite the harsh conditions, the messages were visible from a good distance away and the instructions were clear. The impact was absolutely important to managing this incident.” The value of the sign in this situation gave added reason for Logan and his department to invest in the instALERT®.
But as Logan puts it, they were sold on the sign from the beginning. “The ease of use was apparent right away. All Traffic Solutions had sent me a sign as a demo. It arrived at my office at 11:30 a.m. that Monday, and I had it taken to our conference room for a 1 p.m. staff meeting that same day. Within minutes we had the sign mounted to a post and displaying the messages we wanted. Everything was impressively quick and intuitive.
The next day we decided to put the sign on a truck mount and display it in full sun. We were very pleased to see that message visibility was not compromised even under these bright conditions. We were already confident that the sign would be an asset when the following evening we put it to an even greater test during the tornado incident. Using it under those conditions without question proved its worth. Now, we are better prepared than ever and have improved the safety of our community and officers.
What prompted us to look into this technology in the first place was of course safety. Last December we experienced a very bad accident in our community. Personnel were working under extremely foggy, icy conditions. Officers were literally “diving” out of the way of cars while attempting to handle this critical situation. Motorists would see lights of an accident and just think that they needed to slow down, when they really needed to change their path. That scenario made it quite clear that we needed something that would give motorists proper notification of what was ahead and specific instructions on what to do. I needed a message sign, and I wanted what would be optimal for our department. The instALERT® fit the bill.
What l like most about it is the versatility and ease of use. We get greater utilization thanks to the variety of mounting options and simple message setup. We are now investing in the speedALERT® option, which combines the message board with a radar speed sign. That’s one of the things that I like about these products. They do what they are designed to do, but it doesn’t end there. You can use them combined or individually for even more versatility and coverage.
Needless to say, I have been abundantly pleased with the instALERT® sign. Just as important, though, is that I have also been pleased in working with the team at All Traffic Solutions. They really believe in their products, and it shows through the knowledge and advice they willingly share. It has been a positive experience from start to finish, and I am truly glad to have their products in my arsenal of traffic safety resources.
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