First responders preparing for St. Patrick's Day Festival

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As Secret Service prepares for Vice President Pence's visit, Savannah first responders are preparing in case of an emergency.

Even with all the enhanced security for Savannah's St. Patrick's Day celebration, there could still be emergencies.

When you're out this weekend, everywhere you walk downtown, you'll probably see someone from Savannah Fire. They started prepping for this year's celebration right after last year's got over. Assistant Chief Handy says they planned this year based off of last year's report of what could have been done better when it comes to performance. There will be more firemen downtown and it will be all hands on deck when it comes to emergencies. Mobile units will also be in place.

With the St. Patrick's holiday falling on a Saturday this year, the celebrations are expected to draw an even bigger crowd, so Savannah Fire's number one priority is public safety.

"They are trained to try and get the closest unit there to the emergency so we can identify what it is and get the appropriate resources there, because as you know, it's a large crowd," said Assistant Chief Handy. "A lot of streets are blocked off and there are streets opened up for emergency vehicles that can be utilized and knowing those routes and open communication, that's the biggest piece."

Chief Bengie Cowart of Chatham EMS says they also started prepping for the Irish holiday last year.

"We pull a lot of historical data from last year's event, and we plan this year based on what statistics show us where we need to have extra resources placed in the parade," Cowart said. "Find your PD officers. They are going to outnumber EMS. They will get to them and then they will call for us, and we will get that resource to that person."

That goes to show you that it's critical that things are planned strategically. They even plan for emergencies along the parade route.

"We cut out French barricades along the parade route, and we stage ambulances in those barricaded areas, which give us access to the parade in the event that we have a medical emergency," Cowart said.

Chief Cowart says the number of calls they get during this busy weekend varies depending on the day and the weather.

"If it's hotter, you know, kids marching in the band, we may have an increase of heat-related injuries," he said. "Falls, slips, and trips; some alcohol-related calls."

The most popular of them all during St. Patrick's weekend…

"Passed out in the bushes. Walk by, they see them passed out and they call us, and maybe by the time we get there, their friends have assisted or they woke up and went on to another location," Chief Cowart said.

Chatham EMS, Savannah Fire, and Savannah Police Department are all working together, so if someone needs help, it won't be hard to get it while out celebrating.

"I wish everybody would have a safe St. Patrick's Day. I want everybody to be safe and go home at the end of the day. The parade is not worth getting hit or killed over," Chief Cowart said.

Since there will be more people, there will be more emergency calls, and officials assure us they have more resources.

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