Kick the can for youth

60 year old Stephen Jones is cycling from Maine to San Diego, distributing radiation detection equipment and information to first responders along the way.

In his trip blog, Jones writes:

The man who stopped said he was surprised because he’d thought I was a kid. I explained to him that I was trying to be. Besides “First Responder Ride” I call this my “Kick the Can Ride” as in the old Twilight Zone where the folks at the nursing home turn young again by playing kick the can. I figure for every hundred miles I ride I get a year younger. So by the time I reach San Diego I’ll be 16 again.

Which sounds like an excellent reason to ride across the country.

Jones began his ride in September, which means he’ll encounter winter weather. You can follow his progress on his blog. I’ll paste the press release from Physicians for Civil Defense (which sponsors Jones’ trip) below.


TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 25, 2011 — While governments and terrorist organizations throughout the world are working on high-tech nuclear devices and delivery systems, information to protect Americans is being delivered by bicycle. Stephen Jones can ride about 60 miles a day, stopping by up to nine police or fire stations.

Jones left Martha’s Vineyard on September 23, and is headed for San Diego. Today he is in Kentucky, almost to Arkansas.

He brings first responders key knowledge and samples of radiation detection equipment. Simple facts understood by 1950s schoolchildren are unknown to most Americans today, and most emergency responders have no way to measure radiation levels. Information is available on the internet, but few have looked for it.

Excellent, cheap technology is available for detecting radiation at levels harmful to health, but government and public interest has been too slight to support a robust manufacturing and distribution capability. Jones has provided thousands of postage-stamp sized SIRAD monitors to first responders, and Physicians for Civil Defense will donate enough for an entire department if an official request is made, as soon as funding is available.

If a nuclear emergency—the detonation of a nuclear bomb or “dirty bomb” (radiation dispersal device) occurs anytime soon, the only instrument that can be made quickly in adequate numbers is the home-makeable Kearny Fallout Meter. A soda pop can or tomato sauce can, and other materials you have in your home, are all that are needed — if you have the instructions and follow them carefully.

Jones and other volunteers previously equipped rural fire departments throughout the state of Arizona, traveling by car. SIRAD cards weren’t available then, but firefighters received a copy of the essential book Nuclear War Survival Skills; a factory-made Kearny Fallout Meter; a kit with materials for making their own KFM; and a keychain NukAlert, which makes chirping sounds when detecting significant radiation.

“Personal contact is the most effective means of disseminating information, and first responders are the best people to focus our limited resources on,” said Jones. He finds that most first responders are eager to have this information.

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