It doesn’t matter if you work in a large city that may host an event like the Super Bowl or a small town with a county fair, you need to prepare for the larger crowds and all the problems that come with those events. There are a lot of things that need to be done by the fire department so everyone has fun, and everything runs smooth.
One of the more visible clues that something is going on, is the large number of cars coming to town. We have all had the pleasure of sitting in a traffic jam from a concert, sporting event or carnival. It seems like everyone loses common driving skills when we they encounter traffic. There are those guys that try and get ahead of everyone by riding the shoulder or cutting through parking lots. Then there are the drivers that think if they get right on your bumper, it will help you get ahead of the 50 cars ahead of you.
Fire and other emergency apparatus also get stuck in this traffic. It doesn’t matter how much you wind the siren or blow the air horn, sometimes you just can’t get through the traffic. They don’t have any way to get out of your way. Try and plan some alternate routes. If the event is big enough, you may want to consider adjusting manning to put more vehicles at various locations to reduce the distance for responses.
Carnivals, county fairs, and big festivals will bring in lots of vendors. Many of these vendors will be cooking and selling food. If you have ever taken time to check out some of this equipment, you might be surprised. If you are a fan of all the fried food you can get at these events, you wouldn’t want to watch them clean the fryers. These fryers have a large drain pipe on the bottom to remove the grease, filter it and then it is reused. These drain pipes frequently get plugged from all the sludge in the fryer. It might taste good, but after watching this, I’m out on the fryer except for the fried cheese. The health department does check these vendors, but the fire department should also inspect them for safety. Many use propane cylinders which are seldom secured properly.
When you concentrate a lot of people in an area, you are going to see an increase in EMS responses just based on the number of people. If your event is during hot weather, that number will be even greater. Getting an ambulance through these crowds will be difficult, or impossible. Consider using a golf cart or other small motorized vehicle for first responders to get through the crowd. There are some of these carts set up quite nicely with a stretcher, EMS supplies and a fire extinguisher. Local hotels and establishments will also be more crowded. Make sure your occupancy loads are posted and checked in areas that are likely to be crowded.
Being prepared for these events is important. A little planning and increase in manpower is much easier to handle than being unprepared and not ready to handle the situations you know are likely to happen.
By John Morse
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