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Observations of a Funeral Detail

I have been a member of the Sheriffs Department for over 45 years and have attended many deputy funerals. I have been able to witness entry and exit traffic many times. This was usually done by "Professional Funeral Escort Services". Many times their directions or lack of directions, instructions or questions of those attending resulted in utter confusion and bad feelings of those attending and any of the public in the area who were inconvenienced.

My first involvement at a D.C.S. funeral detail was 03/08/11 for Deputy Thomas Gallagher. During this detail I was amazed at the amount of coordination between D.C.S. and the Sheriffs Department personnel handling the funeral arraignments. We were able, with the amount of staff that we had (Our response and adequate numbers is very important), to direct persons attending to proper parking areas depending on their needs. We were also able to have a positive impact on the area residents and people passing through the area who were inconvenienced by the event.

The more D.C.S. members responding to an event of this type will help to make our part of the event easier and more successful

Recently I attended another Retired Deputy’s Funeral for Mike Kapic, age 97 and was underwhelmed by the "professional motorcycle escorts (5). they were standing in a group by the parking lot entrance waving handfuls of auto stickers, asking no questions and sort of directing people where to park and they got upset because I backed into a parking space against a fence instead of pulling in facing the fence (I was not going to be in the procession and wanted a clear visual when leaving). As I said before I think D.C.S does a better job.
Richard A. Smith Sr.

E403

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I had an idea of what this would be like as, I had been involved with some traffic control when I was working, and parking at large church meetings. I did learn that I needed a new battery and to have my AA battery backup with me. Also I guess I need to get a more solid type antenna so I won’t poke someone’s eye, including mime, with my wire type. I did find it hard  to remember members call sign when I wanted to talk to them, of course sometimes I forget my own….
Doug Witt, E123

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The following is my experience participating at the Funeral Detail

My experience as a DCS member has been limited to Net Control Operator and two other events the Camilla Parade and the Sheriffs Mug Run. All three of these events are rather limited in the use of the radios. Radio use during the Net is very  precise and once in position at the Parades and the Sheriff’s run very little has been needed in the way of communication.

The Funeral Detail on 3/8/2011 for Deputy Gallagher was totally different. I anticipated the possible use of my HT but thought most of our efforts would be used giving directions to everyone attending the Funeral Service. Little did I realize the facility for the Funeral also held early morning Services and had a Elementary School on site. Three different events on the same site at the same time.

Our day started with Staff 11 positioning The DCS team in various parts of the parking lot to direct everyone to the proper areas for easy entry and exit. There were enough team members to double up in each position, which was comforting to a beginner like me.

Group one was assigned to the lot entrance. Their responsibility was to direct people to one of three areas; the school, the early morning Service or the Funeral Service.

Group two assigned to the main parking lot to oversee parking according to initial instructions.

Group three were assigned to direct important dignitaries to special parking areas.

Group four was assigned to direct law enforcement to their area of the parking lot.

This period of time which led up to the Funeral Service seemed to go very smoothly. Radio communication became very important as people were directed to one of three events.

Our use of the Hts was straight forward Unit IDs called and the message sent all on simplex.

What I didn’t realize was the importance of knowing every ones Unit ID and name. Up to this point everything went smoothly at least from my point of view.

Just prior to the end of the Church Service, Staff 11 reassigned DCS team members to the next phase of the Funeral Service which would take place at the Grave Site. Those who were assigned the streets and driveways were to stop traffic as the Funeral procession made it’s way to the Grave Site. The other half of the DCS Team were to monitor traffic at the site as the procession made its way forward. When we arrived at the Grave Site whatever plans were made at the Church were quickly changed by the Funeral Director. Next on the list of changes was the communication problem. Due to the hilly nature of the area messages had to be relayed from point to point, direct messages from person to person did not seem possible.

Under a controlled event as is the weekly net the stress of receiving and sending messages is minimal. At the Grave Site to me the stress level was noticeable. I now had to remember every ones Unit ID and to the verbal message that was to be relayed. I assume that to  whose who have participated in many different types of events this was not a problem, but to a beginner this could be a little unsettling. It was a challenge to focus and remember DCS Team members Unit IDs and the message that was to be sent.

Remember the dynamics of the Funeral procession were changing minute to minute so the messages to team members needed to be upgraded also and just as fast. At first glance it seems simple but remember, nothing is written down and to be correct the messages must be sent without interpretation, and Unit ID must be used.

This type of event is much different than the more structured event I have participated in .The experience was unique and very valuable. When it’s suggested that DCS members participate in this type of venue it’s because there are experiences not attainable in other events. The ability to recall and send messages quickly using the correct identifier is a skill that takes practice. What better way to practice these skills than in an environment which is not related to some type of community disaster. This also gives us a chance to serve the community which we are a part of.

I now have a better understanding of getting to do as many different types of Community events as possible. Each event presents the communicator with a different set of problems

all of which will help lead to confidence building in one’s ability to receive and send messages quickly and accurately.

Ray Avesian

E01

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