BBQ festival committee reviews safety plans

Published 8:02 am Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Two-dozen emergency officials, chamber members and barbecue festival organizers surrounded a U-shaped desk at the Tryon Fire Department in mid-May to discuss safety plans for the June 10-11 festival.
Chairman Chuck Britton said he feels confident in the safety plan they’ve prepared.
“These people know what they are doing,” Britton said of the numerous emergency departments involved.
The barbecue festival can attract up to 5,000 people at a given time, meaning plans must be in place in case of widespread emergencies or severe weather.
During the meeting, safety officials talked through two potential scenarios – the first a tornado warning, the second a chlorine gas leak from a wrecked tanker truck.
“This is a ‘plan for the worst and nothing ever catches you by surprise’ form of preparation,” said Tryon Fire Chief Joey Davis. “If you push the button on a tornado warning you’re going to have some people freak out.”
During this meeting, officials discussed potential enclosed locations in case of severe weather. They discussed evacuation routes should they need to clear the area surrounding a wreck and other possibilities. FEMA requires officials to be National Information Management Systems ready. This means designating someone as the commander to hand down decisions. That responsibility falls to Tryon Police Chief Jeff Arrowood. Arrowood will coordinate with officials at command who will be watching for any potential for severe weather.
That coordination involves efforts from the Tryon Police Department, Tryon Fire Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, N.C. Highway Patrol State Troopers, Polk County EMS and Polk County Rescue.
Chamber respresentative Andy Millard said a network of walkie-talkies will be available onsite, as well as speakers and sirens on emergency trucks to assist in alerting festival-goers to any potential danger.
“Our job on the public safety side is we’ve got to err on the side of caution,” Davis said.
Davis said organizers will also prepare cookers, vendors and crafters by sharing safety plans during meetings to make sure they are aware of the procedure in case of an emergency. Davis suggested providing those participants and volunteers with an emergency procedure sheet to make sure everyone is on the same page.
“We have a plan that we can evacuate people and get them to safety in the event of a variety of emergency events.We have the medical people on the grounds there,” Britton said. “I think our emergency personnel have really worked through a solid plan.”

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