Tampa Bay REACT, Inc. is a Chartered Team of REACT International, Inc. Team Charter #6127 was granted on March 9th, 2007.
Tampa Bay REACT, Inc. is a volunteer, non-profit, tax exempt, charitable organization providing community service to Hillsborough County, Florida and the Tampa Bay Regional Area.
Do you remember when CB radio was really popular?
Well … maybe I’m already showing my age. Nearly every “big rig” truck driver on the highways crossing North America had a CB radio installed in it. You could get in your car, truck or van … all by yourself or with the family, and travel to anywhere … and never be alone. Someone was ALWAYS on the other end of the CB radio. All you had to do was “key the microphone” and talk.
Traveling salespeople frequently installed a CB radio in their car. Spending lots of time going from one city to the next, they often passed the time by asking “Break. Is anyone out there?” and almost as soon as they released the key on their microphone, someone would answer.
Back then, lots of military people also had CB radios. Some still do. On Friday night or early Saturday morning, after they had “been secured” for the week-end, many military would “swoop” home for the week-end. “Home” was sometimes a long, long way away from the base. a CB radio was used to  stay awake during the late evening/early morning,  obtain information from “truckers” about any road closures or repairs, and  to obtain the location of “bears” [aka: police] as they were announced over the CB.
People would talk for miles and miles … passing the time, breaking the boredom, and sometimes, they talked just to stay awake. Many highway patrols and state police agencies installed and monitored CB Channel 9 (emergency communications/motorist assistance only). Cellular phones hadn’t emerged on the scene yet, and CB radios were inexpensive, reliable, and easy-to-use. Although the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] required all CB radio operators to have a license, many CBers just bought, installed and started talking on their radio.
Behind the scenes, there was a group of volunteers who spent hundreds of hours each year just listening [we call it “monitoring” for anyone who needed help. Sometimes, the “help” was just to find a particular location. Sometimes, it was from a disabled motorist, who needed someone to call a tow truck or auto club for assistance. Sometimes, monitors received calls regarding life-threatening situations that needed an immediate response.
REACT has been “monitoring” the airways since 1962. Since it’s inception, REACT volunteers have been providing a range of radio-related services to the public. It “used to be” that even in the remotest areas, when you never expected an answer, you would “key the microphone” of your CB radio and suddenly, you’d be surprised to hear some respond, “This is REACT. May I help you?”
Over the years, REACT has accumulated many stories and thousands of radio contacts from people, just like you, who got a flat tire, had [or wanted to report] an accident, or just simply needed directions after getting lost.
Of course, times have changed. CB radio is not nearly as popular as it was “back then.” But many people still have a CB radio in their car, truck or van. Many of them never test or turn on their CB radio until they need it. Another “nagging” problem is the language now heard on CB radio. The profanity and “lewd” remarks are not only disgusting, they are a social embarrassment. As licensing is no longer required and enforcement of the airways is non-existent, it will be a difficult challenge to “clean up the airways” so CB can once again be a responsible communications tool for those who need help, want to report problems or need roadside assistance.
Have you listened to a CB radio lately? Depending on your location, you can sometimes sit for hours and hear absolutely nothing!! Many monitors occasionally “unsquelch” their radios to make sure it’s working properly [and maybe just to “break the boredom”]. In other locations, Channel 9 is constantly victimized by “bleed over” from Channels 7-8 and 10-11 because users sometimes operate illegally with more power than is authorized by law. Essentially, this “blocks” effective monitoring of Channel 9, because monitors — being the human beings they are — frequently turn the squelch knob a little “tighter” to reduce the unwanted, irritating interference. The result: weaker stations calling on Channel 9 are not heard because more powerful radios essentially “block” communications with the monitoring station.
For experienced REACT monitors, however, this has always been a volunteer’s “occupational hazard” and something most monitors have accepted. It was true back then, and it’s true today. So why does REACT continue to monitor? That question is very easy to answer.
When you hear someone calling for help, you KNOW you have the training, the knowledge and the ability to INFLUENCE THE OUTCOME. Just by simply “keying the microphone” you can touch someone’s life. The caller might be someone from outside the area, stranded wanting help. They might be someone’s wife, trying to get the children home, and need someone to change a flat tire. It might be someone just involved in an accident and they need an emergency response.
They appreciate the assistance from YOU. When they talk, you’ll HEAR it in their voice. You hear it when they respond with, “Thank you, REACT monitor.” Yes, it’s a really GOOD feeling.
But … REACT is not for everyone. True, we’re normal people, just like you. But we all share a single quality that binds every REACTer, regardless of team, regardless of location … that binds us together as a single voice. It is that one, common denominator that has provided an “internal strength” to our organization and allowed it to overcome many challenges.
Every REACTer has a sincere desire to GIVE, to MAKE A DIFFERENCE. It makes them feel good. In some small way, they have made a difference. To the lives they’ve touched, however, they’ve made a BIG difference.
REACTers are everywhere. Frequently, they do all the WRONG THINGS. They don’t advertise, they don’t market, they don’t promote the organization. They don’t do many of the things they should do … especially when wanting new members. But, they DO monitor, they DO call in stranded motorists, they DO report traffic accidents, and they DO assist with search and rescue operations, they DO assist law enforcement, and lots, lots, lots more. Our Monitoring Reports are proof of their dedication and commitment to providing public service through communications.
A lot has changed within REACT. We have extended our range of communications and now include GMRS [General Mobile Radio Service] and Amateur radio bands. We use cellular phones, electronic mail and many teams have web sites. Many REACT Teams today have either an active CERT component or they work closely with local CERT Teams in their area. REACT and CERT are the perfect companions, where REACT is focused on radio communications, CERT is focused on community safety, preparedness as well as search and rescue in times of disaster.