What is the BP MS150?
The BP MS 150 is a two-day fundraising bike ride organized by the National MS Society South Central Region. The BP MS 150 is the largest of the 100 Bike MS events in the United States with 13,000 cyclists and 3,500 volunteers with countless spectators along the route and at the finish line in Austin. Over sixty thousand people participate and contribute to this event each year making it one of the largest charity bike rides in North America.
Along the route riders will stop at break points and lunch stops spaced about every 10-15 miles. At these locations they are able to use support services of snack and refreshments, bike repairs, medical attention, port-a-lets, and Special Assistant and Gear (SAG) services which move riders forward by vehicle. These rest areas are important to the well-being of the thousands of riders who use these services.
Riders gather overnight in La Grange, Texas at the Fayetteville County Fairgrounds which becomes a small city of fifty five thousand cyclists, support personal, corporate sponsors, and entertainment. Hygiene and medical facilities, as well as Team Tents are provided for cyclists comfort and support. Imagine an overnight festival provided for the fun and safe relaxation of the cyclist and their family and friends, and you’ll have La Grange.
The following day riders wake and are onto Austin where they petal their way through the beautiful rolling hillsides of central Texas. Eighty some miles latter they will arrive at the finish line in the shadow of the Texas Capital Building amidst cheering fans and loved ones as they each cross the finish line.
This event requires a large logistical operation. There are twenty two sub-committees and Multiple Sclerosis staff who plan the logistical operations of this event from Houston to Austin every year. CERT plays an operational role in that all breakpoints are managed by a CERT member, and all non-roadway traffic is directed by CERT. Since the introduction of CERT members into the organization and operation of Breakpoint Management the flow and control, and mostly the SAFETY of each breakpoint has made major improvement.
What role does CERT play?
CERT volunteers from counties across the ride route control cyclist flow in and out of the seventeen breakpoints (rest stops). CERT Breakpoint Controllers (BPCs) operate under the Incident Command Structure and span of control as if they were deployed in response to an event. CERT BPCs provide a safe environment for all cyclists using the breakpoints. Not only by directing traffic flow but by also setting up the systems to accomplish these tasks. Breakpoint Managers and BPC Team Leads work together in determining how best to design and implement the safety features in each unique breakpoint. CERT BPCs then staff these features and provide a safe, orderly, entrance and egress for all participating cyclists. Community Emergency Response Teams have been involved for eight years in the ride, and during that time have upgraded their area of responsibility and received praise from Multiple Sclerosis and their safety peers.
Why the BP MS 150?
This volunteer opportunity allows teams to develop the Team working skills of communications, problem solving, crowd control and flow, and in essence a breakpoint is a Point of Distribution (POD) as taught in FEMA’s IS-26: Guide to Points of Distribution. Working a breakpoint assignment helps prepare CERTs to assist as volunteers in cold zones in support of first responders. It is encouraged that CERT Teams volunteer together to train and provide support and develop the team building skills which will serve them in the event they need to utilize these skills.
CERTs may volunteer for the two day commitment. Transportation from the rally point to the assigned breakpoints is provided. Overnight lodging, Saturday evening and Sunday morning meals are provided. The comradery and fellowship developed over the two day event helps CERT Teams build the relationships needed to act in the face of need in their own communities. The BP MS 150 is not only a fun and rewarding event to participate in but it is also a great training platform for team related exercises.