Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Planning for Emergencies

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Planning for Emergencies

Article excerpt

Thunderstorms can turn into rainbows if proper planning is taken

Most, if not all of our communities have special events. Sonic special events are small and others are large. Some are one-time events and some are recurring. If an emergency occurs at the event, in most cases the emergency service agencies play a role in the response. Rut, no matter what type of event, how the parks and recreation department interacts with the emergency service agency is important.

Recently, I had the opportunity to be part of the planning and response for the 2002 PGA Golf Championship held at Hazcltinc National Golf Course in Chaska, Minn. My experience providing emergency service assistance applied many of the principals used in planning any special event, whether it is large or small.

The staff at the 2002 PGA Golf Championship had already formed relationships before the event began. These types of relationships are the cornerstone of a successful event, because they allow effective and efficient teamwork to occur at the event. Teamwork is critical for short-term success and long-term gain. Part of the reason why the camaraderie emerged, was because training sessions were conducted prior to the event. Training sessions for all agencies and individuals involved is a large task; however, it is clear to sec that individuals and the overall system are more effective when training is conducted priur to the event. The training sessions could include an overview of the event, specific public safety or public service operations, specific discipline operations and hands-on training with equipment. A tour of the special event site prior to the event is also helpful.

But training and relationships are just one component of establishing a successful event. There needs to be an effective communications system, but that doesn't mean you have to start from scratch. At Hazeltinc, staff used existing communications systems, including inter-operable radio communications used in conjunction with cell phones, land-line phones and other modes of communications, which played a key factor in the outcomes of the event.

When Emergency Calls

The Carver County Fire Departments Ila/.ardous Materials Response Group in coordination with the National Guard 55th Civil Support Team (CIST) provided the lead coordination in the hazardous materials area. Overall site analysis and risk assessment was preformed prior to the event and was updated on a regular basis leading up to and during the event. The analysis included chemical storage facilities that surrounded the course, how hazmat teams were prepared to respond to these events, and how notifications would be enhanced during the week of the PCJA Championship. On-site hazardous materials equipment was staged in strategic locations and specific protocols were put in place for hazmat incidents on site or in the immediate adjoining area.

During the seven days of the 2002 PGA Championship, the emergency services agencies responded to 162 calls for service. The calls for service included medical emergencies, crashes, missing persons, damage to property, hazardous materials incidents, weather issues, tent issues, emergency messages, disorderly conduct, suspicious vehicles, fires and thefts.

Probably the most unique request for service was a significant rainfall event. During the night of Aug. 10, the Chaska area was hit with heavy rain and strong thunderstorms producing more than five inches of rain in a 12-hour period. Due to the heavy rain in the short period, the on-course lakes and run-off areas were not able to contain the water run off. The Chaska Fire Department, in coordination with the Hazcltine National Golf Club staff, City of Chaska Public Works staff and other agencies, were called in to assist in removing water from a ponding/ drain tile area. This ponding area was designated for water run-off from many of the individual golf holes on the golf course. The R re department provided two engines/pumpers with 5" LDH to the area and assisted in moving more than 500,000 gallons of water in three hours from the pond to a nearby natural lake. …

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