Fire department well staffed for Blueberry Festival

PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Fire Department is ready for the Blueberry Festival.
Fire chief Rod Miller said Monday that for the first time, the city has approved extra personnel to be on staff during festival weekend.
“The city has allowed us to run a staff of 10 people through the weekend,” said Miller, adding that on a usual weekend four employees are on staff.
“Preparedness is our best defense, just simply because of the number of people that come to this town,” said Miller. “The more we can do, the better it is for the citizens of Plymouth, and guests to the town.”
He anticipates that a large portion of the extra work for the fire department will come in the form of the many calls to transport patients from the park.
“The Blueberry committee will have two paramedic carts and two basic (EMT) carts (at the park),” explained Miller. “They do treat-and-release, basically things like bee stings, asthma, seizure patients, and minor cuts.”
If further medical attention is needed, that’s when the fire department steps in.
“We will meet (the paramedics) at a central location, such as the Amphitheater, to take the patient to the hospital,” said Miller.
For the big fireworks display happening Sunday night, four fire trucks — from Plymouth, Argos, Culver, and LaPaz — will meet at the park late Sunday afternoon and “strategically place themselves where they should be if something were to happen, like a dud firework,” said Miller.
Thursday, Miller, City building commissioner Keith Hammonds, and state fire marshal James Greeson will conduct an inspection of the entire park, making sure booths are outfitted with a fire extinguisher and that extension cords and other electrical situations are as they should be.
“If you have a booth at the festival, you are required by state law to have a fire extinguisher,” said Miller. “We know what we are looking for. A lot of these vendors have been there before, and they know what to do.”
The Marshall County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) will again set up an emergency operations center in the Marshall County Building in case it is needed. The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department is also again running an extra dispatch service for festival-related 911 calls, dubbed the “Blueberry Dispatch.”
“In essence we have two dispatch centers for the county, and for Plymouth that weekend,” said Miller. “A lot of people don’t realize how much the dispatchers actually do. They are the ones that have to stay calm and talk to the caller when they are literally in panic mode. Our dispatchers do a wonderful job, they really do.”
Miller said that his department typically plans for the worst-case scenario, although in his memory there has been no large-scale incident at the festival.
“We have been very fortunate,” said Miller. “We know the potential of risk that comes with this many people coming to the town. We don’t deal with this on a daily basis.”