Polk plans for 20,000-30,000 a day for WEG

Published 8:00 am Friday, August 10, 2018

MILL SPRING — Local officials planning for emergency services for the upcoming World Equestrian Games say they are planning for 20,000 to 30,000 people a day, not the original 50,000 people a day.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and heard a WEG update from emergency management director Bobby Arledge. Commissioners last month asked to hear an update every meeting up until the games, which begin Sept. 11 at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring.

Arledge said stakeholder meetings have continued monthly, with local, state and federal partners, with the last meeting on July 31 with 85 people attending.

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“Breakout groups will still be meeting on a regular basis up until the games start,” Arledge said.

Parking for the WEG will be at the Steeplechase track on Highway 9, with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Highway Patrol having plans in place for traffic control.

Arledge said the DOT has plans for traffic signs located throughout the area and will have six live feed cameras that county officials will be monitoring from the command post to see traffic. Units will also be patrolling Interstate 26 and U.S. 74 to assist traffic.

“Traffic will leave the Steeplechase track and travel out Floyd Blackwell Road to Sandy Plains Road, then turn onto Pea Ridge Road to the equestrian center,” Arledge said. “Secondary plans are in place in the event that route becomes blocked.”

The location of the command post has been changed to the area where the old Pea Ridge Road was, Arledge said. Arledge said there is tremendous support from western counties and the state with personnel, as well as with loaning generators, light towers and radios.

The inner circle medical will be taken care of by Atrium and Med-1, which is a hospital that will be located in the same area as the command post.

“Plus, there will be three aid stations positioned throughout the property,” Arledge said. “Each aid station will have a medical cart in the event transport is needed to Med-1. They will also have UTV teams for cross country days and the endurance race.”

There will be three ambulances on site and five on the endurance race day as well as Med Center Air being on site Sept. 12 for the endurance race. Arledge said after that, local officials can call for air transport if needed.

Locally, Polk County EMS plans to run three and a half crews during the two weeks of the games, with one unit to be placed at the Mill Spring Fire Department for faster response times to Green Creek, Sunny View and Mill Spring.

Arledge said the Office of the State Fire Marshal will assist firefighters on the inner circle, with four staff during the day and two on night shift. The OSFM will also bring specialty rescue equipment, he said.

“The remaining firefighters will be filled by firefighters from other counties,” said Arledge. “I have a work schedule and it is completely full, so we have the firefighters we need for the inner circle fire protection.”

Fire protection will include two fire trucks on site with eight firefighters during the day and two at night. In case of an emergency where more firefighters or equipment are needed, Arledge said local fire departments would then be called.

Local fire departments are planning to add personnel during the games.

Arledge also said emergency officials will be using the State Viper radio channels to keep the county channels clear during the games. Onsite communications will run out of the Air National Guard Mobile Emergency Operations Center with a direct link to the county’s 911 center. The county’s 911 center will operate with an additional employee during the games, with the county’s back-up 911 available if needed.

On the law enforcement side, Arledge said TIEC will provide security, which will be supplemented by sworn officers. The sheriff’s office will secure officers from different agencies to work inside the venue. There will be 18 officers on site during the day and eight officers at night.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation will have bomb units and special response teams at the games, with Arledge saying the SBI has been monitoring web sites for any threats to the facility, which currently, no threats have been made.

Public health officials also plan to have a minimum of 15 food inspectors on site to inspect all temporary food establishments.

Arledge also said senior services is adding an additional Meals on Wheels route to Green Creek to reduce travel time for the meals. The Polk County Department of Social Services has also completed sheltering trainings and exercises.

Rutherford Electric will have staff near by in the event of a power incident.

During the games, John Shehan Road will be closed from Moore Road to Pea Ridge Road for event traffic.