Date Published : September 4th, 2015 Published By : adminStradbally, Co. Laois will be the home for many gardai, fire, ambulance, voluntary and security service personnel over the weekend as Electric Picnic 2015 gets underway. Tens of thousands of people from across Ireland are expected to converge on Stradbally Hall for this three day festival.
Report By Declan Keogh
An Garda Siochana have put in place a comprehensive Policing and Traffic Management Plan for the duration of the event. Over one hundred gardai are on duty on any given day, from the local Districts within the Laois/Offaly Division and gardai from other regions. Additional resources and support is also being provided by the Garda’s national support units.
Most patrons are expected to have arrived today, Friday and the Gardai have a mammoth task in terms of keeping traffic moving. The M7 and M8 motorways will take most of the traffic while the national and regional link roads from Athy, Co. Kildare and Carlow/Kilkenny side will also feed in high volumes of traffic.
Garda Traffic Corps units from Laois, Offaly, Kildare, Carlow and Kilkenny districts will monitor, manage and patrol the designated festival routes.
Gardai at Electric Picnic 2014: Photo: Declan Keogh
The Garda Mobile Communications Unit will play a vital role with providing the gardai and various support units with the bulk of information. Speaking to EmergencyTimes.com following last year’s event, Garda Inspector Declan Dunne of Portlaosie Garda Station told Emergency Times the benefits and uses of the Garda Comms Unit. “The communications vehicle is the central point of information for gardai for outside and inside the event. People safety is our priority and if a crime happens, or is about to happen, we can see it from our cameras, prevent it or take action if needed. In relation to traffic, we have down links form the Air Support Unit and if we see congestion on the approach routes we try to move the traffic on the particular route and ease congestion.”
Laois County Council is the event licensing authority and as such, is the body overseeing the whole event. Fire Officers from the county fire service have been working with event promoters ahead of the festival to ensure that adequate and proper fire cover is in place for the entire weekend, in accordance with the event licence.
Laois County Fire & Rescue Service plays a key role in at the event and while the Stradbally Unit of the fire service is the primary statutory fire cover for the event, a team of fire fighters from a private fire service operator has been contracted by event promoters to provide first response fire cover around the clock, to any incidents in the site, prior to the arrival of local authority crews as part of their licence.
Photo: (Laois County Fire & Rescue Service)
In a statement to Emergency Times today, Assistant Chief Fire Officer with Laois County Fire Service Anthony Tynan said “Fire officers are involved in assessing and auditing licence compliance at all stages before and during the event in relation to safety. They inspect the site on an ongoing basis and meet with event organisers very regularly”
Stradbally fire station is a retained station and due to expected busy periods of the festival, the crew have been placed on ‘Day-Manning’ for the weekend. ACFO Tynan says this will ensure a fast response by the statutory fire crew. “Stradbally is a retained station located directly adjacent to the Electric Picnic site and during times of busy traffic they switch to day-manning to ensure a rapid response to incidents on and off site. They will also provide regular site patrols to ensure access to all areas of the site continues to be available. This is a requirement of the event licence.”
Stradbally Fire Crew: (FF Bill Kelly, Sub Officer Darren Moran, FF’s Martin Shorthall, Ray Keane, Gerry Delaney, D/M Eamon Manzor)
Photo: Declan Keogh
Medical cover for these types of events and festivals are generally covered by the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps, the Irish red Cross or private medical and ambulance operators. The HSE National Ambulance Service does not attend these events for medical cover. A spokesperson from the HSE confirmed to Emergency Times today that ‘The National Ambulance Service does not provide cover at such events.’
Order of Malta volunteers being briefed ahead of a major event
Dozens of volunteers from voluntary ambulance groups from across the greater Midlands region will attend the festival this weekend, providing first aid, medical and ambulance cover along with private ambulance operators.
Traditionally, Laois Civil Defence would have attended the Electric Picnic every year, this year however, the voluntary service is unable to attend. Last year up to 40 members of the Civil Defence from the three main Laois units of Mountmellick, Durrow and Stadbally covered 96 hours of duties across the weekend.
Laois Civil Defence at EP 2014: (Back L-R: Tim Wallis, Cmdr Seamus Carpenter, CDO Liam Preston, Matthew Walsh, Damien Dollald. Front L-R: Michael York, John o’ Sullivan and Stephen McNamara) Photo: Declan Keogh
Speaking to EmergencyTimes.com following last year’s festival, Laois Civil Defence Officer Liam Preston explained the resources which were in place. “We had a number of 4 wheel drive vehicles, two of which are personnel carriers, one of which has a 600 litre water tank and portable pump on it and is used for fast response to fires, another of which has rescue equipment and fire extinguishers on it and we also had our Fire Appliance in operation. Laois Civil Defence has a total of twenty-seven personnel trained in fire fighting and five Officers-In-Charge.”