BY M.L. RAMSBURG
It undoubtedly takes a lot of preparations to plan a 50 mile, 5 day march. Elliot Grayson, one of the media liaisons for the March on Blair Mountain, said organizers spent at least six months making preparations for the event. And with good reason. According to March reps, there are 250 marchers currently in route to Blair, and a total of 600 to 1,000 (estimates vary, according to whom you ask) are expected at the rally on Saturday. So what all does it take to make such a large event run as smooth as possible? A look at some of the March logistics and safety.
- Organizers use a color-coding system to group individuals together. According to Grayson, each attendee is assigned a certain color, and then becomes a member of that color group. This allows organizers to help marchers locate their personal goods (goods can be transported together based on color group), Grayson said. It also helps members quickly band together in the event of an emergency, she said. In addition to individual color groups, organizers have also divided various volunteer tasks by color. Team members wearing red armbands, for instance, are in charge of medical assistance. Those with purple assist the press.
- Andrew Munn, core community organizer and logstics team member, said there are eight trained EMT marchers who are there to help with first-aid medical response in the event of an emergency. EMTs will have access to medical supplies, Munn told me. Although he was unsure of exactly what types/numbers of supplies were available, he said that most of the items on hand would be used as a first response, until other emergency responders could arrive on the scene. As per Blair Mountain Media reps, at the time of this writing, no injuries have occurred.
- Munn also said that Kanawha County, Boone County, Logan County, Marmet, Madison, and West Virginia State police will all lend their support in keeping marchers and others safe during the journey. In Marmet on Monday, police helped to escort the marchers safely through town.
- Grayson, the media liaison, said that for every person who attends the march, 10 gallons of water are needed each day. Water is transported in “water buffalos”, or large storage tanks, Grayson told me. Drinking water is provided throughout the trip, and stops are made as needed, she said.
- March organizers have collected safety information on all attendees, Grayson told me. In addition, marchers were required to take a mandatory training session that went over safety, conflict de-escalation, and other topics of importance to the march, Grayson said. According to the March on Blair Mountain’s official website, another training session will be offered for participants in Saturday’s rally.
- Food for the marchers will be transported daily to the march sites, Grayson said. Meals will be prepared on site. The menu, Grayson said, was prepared by two chefs, and march volunteers help in the food prep. All meals are planned according to daily nutritional needs, she said. According to the March website, vegetarian options are also available for those who choose them.
- A team of volunteer drivers transport supplies, including those items brought by March attendees, Grayson said. Volunteer drivers are also available to transport those feeling ill or not able to walk, she said.
- Portable toilets will be transported during the journey, Grayson said. And showers? “Those are harder to come by,” she said.