College graduations, a country fair, spring festivals, Little League games, wine tasting, charity runs, and the G8 -- all this weekend in Frederick County, Md.
Emergency services personnel and local law enforcement officers are geared up for one busy weekend.
“While most places get a year’s notice to plan for G8 and the accompanying protests, we’ve had two months,” noted Tom Owens, director of Fire and Rescue Services in Frederick County. “It’s been fast and furious, but plans are in place.”
Local officials learned of the G8 being moved from Chicago to Camp David on the news in early March.
Since then, they’ve been meeting weekly with the Secret Service, the White House, military and other federal officials about EMS, fire and law enforcement responsibilities.
With Camp David, located in the Catoctin Mountains, a secure facility, issues there will be handled by federal fire, EMS and police.
Stationed nearby, however, will be ambulances, a fire truck and ALS unit.
“Volunteers with Thurmont Community Ambulance have established crews to be on duty throughout the period,” Owens said. “They also are providing people for a fire engine because the Guardian Hose Co. has a previous commitment.”
EMS crews also will be strategically placed with police in undisclosed locations.
Occupy Baltimore protestors are planning to demonstrate on the streets of Thurmont, the closest town to Camp David.
In Frederick, demonstrators also planning to protest the G8 summit.
Owens said fire and EMS personnel in Frederick also have adjusted schedules to have additional and special units staffed.
“Volunteers are taking over an ambulance and engine so the career folks can be reassigned to other units.”
Owens said federal officials have complimented local officials for digging in to get things in place. “They say they’ve been impressed that we work so well together.”
Incident action plans have been developed, and shared among stakeholders and crews from around the county and nearby jurisdictions who may provide mutual aid.
A unified command post will go into operation on Thursday morning, and remain open through the weekend.
There will be representation from city, county, state and federal officials. Owens said Frederick Memorial Hospital officials indicated they are prepared as well for the possible onslaught of extra patients.
One thing that hasn’t sat well as agency officials gear up and add staff for the possible backlash of the G8 summit, is that there are no plans for the federal government to reimburse them for expenses.
Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said he has been in touch with local members of Congress to change that.
“We are keeping track of our expenses. We’re hoping they step up and do the right thing,” the sheriff said. “We’ve spent a lot of time to make sure anyone and everyone who comes into the county this weekend is OK.”
Jenkins said he has had an ongoing dialogue with county residents and agency officials.
“I recommended that schools be closed Friday, and they agreed. Also, people who live in the Camp David area know which roads are closed.”
Owens added: “There’s a lot going on this weekend. We have crews available and in place to keep everyone safe. That’s our goal.”
In a memo to EMS and firefighters, Owens reminded them that people have constitutional rights to protest and demonstrate. He also encouraged them to be aware, and to stay safe.