Before you save democracy, be sure to save yourself from harm! The key to walker safety is being seen! That’s why we strongly urge all walkers to bring reflective safety vests and why we can even make a limited number of vests available to you at your request.
Should something go wrong, 911 is always the first call. As backup until the medics arrive, there will typically be a designated first-aid walker or driver with a walkie-talkie on hand. Be sure to learn who is serving in that capacity before each day's walk. First aid kits are also available at your request.
Having friendly drivers accompanying you to scope out the scene ahead, post safety signs, and scoop up a walker in need of rest is also critical. We aim to have at least three volunteer support vehicles for a standard walk of 10-20 miles, and more volunteer “shuttle” drivers (depending on the number of walkers) at the end of the walk to give walkers a ride back to their cars (you may also need volunteer “shuttle” drivers at the beginning of the day if your parking location is not walking distance from your kick-off location).
For the support vehicles staying with the walk, there should be two vehicles that take turns leapfrogging ahead of the group in order to display a warning sign to oncoming traffic and assess safety ahead. One or two other vehicles should be making passes by the group to check for walkers needing assistance, to distribute drinks and snacks, and to give a walker a lift or pick up supplies as needed. All of the support vehicle drivers should have walkie-talkies.
There should also be one lead walker at the front and one sweep walker at the back making sure no walkers go ahead or fall behind. Both the lead and sweep walkers should also have walkie-talkies. In the end, it’s all about the group arriving safely and arriving together, not any one person doing the whole walk themselves. This means that your inclement weather / emergency plan may include getting off the road and to a safe location with the support vehicles, and that if the group becomes too spread out from front to back, the rear walkers must be willing to accept a ride to rejoin the group.
Friendly law enforcement officers are a terrific asset. We give notice of your walk to all police departments along your route in advance. While we do not need their permission, we make them aware of our presence as a courtesy. Key to being courteous is making sure that walkers don't interfere with traffic or put anyone in danger.
For added safety and fun, we recommend using a GPS tracking app on your smartphone (like Livetrekker) to track your walk in live-time so that your progress can be posted the website.
Your team leaders will start and end your walk with a brief/debrief with your walkers, to cover safety items to ensure that everyone is prepared in the morning and feeling good in the evening. Feel free to ask any questions or get any feedback you'd like.