Thank you for the well covered article focusing on the safety services during the BLASST fireworks event. The agencies mentioned in the article have been doing this for years, and it only gets better each time. All of the procedures we currently use are direct from national standards, many written after 9-11-01 when President Bush mandated all agencies must work better together, and the Office of Homeland Security was established. To my knowledge, all fire, police, parks, elected officials, hospitals, etc… are educated in these standards in the event we ever have to pull together and work as a larger team.
Our department practices this to some degree on every 9-1-1 call. It can be as simple as one medic (ambulance) assisting another with a patient; a house fire where one Incident Commander coordinates equipment and personnel from many different departments; or a large multi-casualty fireworks incident on a three-county lake requiring a Unified Command Center consisting of several State, County, & Local agencies to provide a single point of direction and communication over a long period of time. Practicing this on a daily basis with the simple tasks makes it much easier to perform when called to action for a major event.
Every public fireworks display in Ohio requires assistance from the local fire department to inspect and approve the launch site at a minimum. We have just chosen to use our event as a training opportunity, whereby each year we establish a Unified Command Center ahead of any emergency and run all the different agencies as if they were one organization. I believe that the departments, having participated in these events over the years, are more prepared to operate as part of a large scale event than those who have only taken the minimum online training.
Our communities should be proud of each agency and each member who participates in this event in order to make it a safe, smooth, educational, and entertaining event for everyone.
Matthew Bergum – Fire Chief
Millersport Fire Department