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Sunday, May 17, 2009

NH Towing Association's 37th Annual Tow & Trade Show.

Here's the story from Seacoastonline.com:

HAMPTON BEACH — It was like a scene from "Transformers" waiting to happen: More than 200 tow trucks, tractors and buses springing to life from a fog at Hampton Beach State Park.

Saturday marked day one of the New Hampshire Towing Association's 37th annual Tow & Trade Show.

The day was filled with simulated recovery demonstrations, antique truck displays and a Light Up The Night event.

The Tow Truck Parade will be held today at 9 a.m. at Hampton Beach during day two of the event.

On Saturday, towers tested their skills and compared gear; kids oohed and ahhed at the big trucks; and visitors perused 36 vendors as country music filled the air.

To NHTA President Rene Fortin, the Tow & Trade Show is about more than showing off machines. It's also about educating the public about who tow truck drivers are as human beings.

"The tower is not such a bad person like everyone makes him out to be," Fortin said. "We're here to show people that we wear a white hat now and then."

Fortin said the event started in a vacant lot in Manchester, born from the idea that the public just sees them as the bad guys, without understanding how they operate and assist police, fire and emergency medical personnel.

"We thought if we tried making ourselves available to the public they could see who we are and what we do."

Towers are on call all the time, he said, and head out on freezing cold nights while others sleep. They face hazardous situations at crash scenes — including dealing with blood-borne pathogens in cars they have to remove — and also have to try to comfort the people involved in those accidents.

"We have to be a counselor, we need to be a friend," Fortin said. "These are all things towers have to do."

The Tow & Trade event included re-enactments of actual incidents towers face — someone on an interstate losing control and ending up on the other side of the highway, for example.

"We adapt to what's out there in the real world. We try to show folks and explain to folks how things are done," he said.

Michael Mosher of HybridHazards.info led a demonstration in hybrid vehicle safety awareness — basically, how to avoid getting electrocuted when dealing with a hybrid after an accident.

Mosher said there are 775,000 hybrids in the United States, but only a small percentage of first responders are trained in working with a high-voltage vehicle that may or may not be powered down at a crash site. Contact with a hybrid's 650-volt system could kill a person, he said.

Fortin estimates between 3,000 to 4,000 people will swing by to see the trucks this weekend, but that's an estimate since there's no head count.

"We've been doing this long enough, some of the members who've been doing this since 1972 — their grandsons or granddaughters are attending shows. It's a family show."

Ray and Jackie Areson of Portsmouth came with their grandchildren, Cassidy, 7 1/2, and Adam, 4.

"I like how it's lifting that bus," Cassidy said, watching a school bus get lifted by a tow truck, while her brother played on a mini tractor.

Bill and Rosemary Blasi of Quincy, Mass., took their son Nicholas, 5, here last year. "He's into trucks," Bill said.

They are staying in the area for the Tow & Trade Show and are especially looking forward to today's parade.

Bill asked Nicholas what they did for the trucks during last year's parade. Nicholas smiled and raised his arm up and down in the universal "honk honk" sign.

They said just about every truck obligingly honked for him last year.

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