People from all around the Delaware Valley will flock to South Jersey this summer. Many will come for the state’s main nature-made attraction–the shore. But many also will try out some the state’s thrilling man-made attractions. At Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, park-goers and park-officials alike are gearing up for another summer season. The carnival games are manned, the carousel music is just right, and, most important the coasters are in action. Park visitor Jordan Horowitz rode his first roller coaster at the tender age of two.
“When you’re on a roller coaster, you always want to get the sense ‘of oh my gosh this is the craziest thing I’ve ever ridden,'” he said. “But at the same time, you know that you’re not going to die.”Fellow high-speed enthusiast Susan Gonda agrees.”I love the feeling of being totally out of control while being totally safe,” she said. To ensure that safety, the state of New Jersey employs 17 full-time ride inspectors. “Actually the busiest time is right now,” said Michael Triplett, the supervisor of enforcement for the New Jersey carnival and amusement ride safety unit.
“Right now they’re doing all of their initial inspections before they operate for the first time for the season.”Once the season’s in full swing, inspectors will return 3 or 4 times to check each ride’s mechanics. They’ll also come 3 or 4 more times to check on ride operations – inspections they try to do covertly. “Places like six flags — even when I went there with my kids I would enter the gate and about 100 feet in someone would come up to me and say ‘Hi Mr. Triplett, are you here to do inspections or are you here for pleasure?'”Last year in New Jersey there were 182 non-serious injuries reported, and 1 serious. Triplett says a serious injury constitutes a broken bone or an overnight hospital stay. A non-serious injury is pretty much anything else. The most death on record was 6 years ago.All incident numbers have been on a steady decline since 2002, when new, stricter regulations were enforced. “We are committed to making sure that the people that come to New Jersey have safe rides to ride on,” Triplett said. And he wants you to know — even he rides the rides. At six flags great adventure, Michael Martorella is the ride supervisor.
“We have very fun, hectic days,” he said. “We get here about 2 hours before everyone else and do safety checks on all the rides.”They also have to ride them, which, for Martorella, is a pretty big perk. It’s also a pretty big perk of reporting this story. We’re on the Green Lantern. We’re headed up 153 feet, and we’ll peak at 63 miles per hour. All of this while doing three loops and two corckscrews. Oh, and we aren’t sitting — we’re standing.