Comparing notes from Firefly

DOVER — The colossal Firefly Music Festival pulled up stakes and headed out of town on June 24, but state and local agencies are still crunching data for their contributions to the event.

Much of the information will be used to improve their services in subsequent years.

Perhaps one of the busiest community partners Firefly has is Kent County’s public safety department. They provide emergency medical service and coordination for the event.

This year, the agency’s director Chief Colin Faulkner said 550 people were transported to on-site doctors, 2,000 people per day sought minor assistance at medical tents (band-aids, Tylenol etc.) and 37 people were transported to the hospital.

“In terms of outliers — unusual events for us — we had two DFIs (drug facilitated intubation) where we put a tube into the lungs so the patient can breathe,” he said.

“One was because of a polypharma overdose, which basically means the person had so many different types of drugs on board that they were having respiratory problems. The other was strictly a respiratory patient. Both were taken to the hospital, but we had no bad outcomes there.”

There was evidence of LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) usage, Chief Faulkner said, but overall the event was as “busy” as it has been in previous years.

“We had plenty to do, but overall I’d say it was a great success — managed to run it while keeping the rest of the county going without any hiccups, so to speak,” he added. “Our 911 center — the joint operations center responsible for dispatching — was particularly critical to making this a success. We could not do this without them.”

Kent County’s Emergency Management department has provided support for the event for all of its eight years. The call on manpower this year was about two dozen emergency management staff members, a 911 call center and paramedics at the site nearly “around the clock.”

There were four medical tents distributed throughout the festival and campgrounds along with a “fan care” center adjacent to the racetrack that had Bayhealth Medical Center doctors and nurses on hand to address more serious cases.

The local law enforcement teams involved in supporting the festival had their hands full too.

More than 130 reports of cell phone thefts and other thefts from campsites and The Woodlands (the venue) area were reported, along with two stolen vehicles — a golf cart and an unlocked car with the keys left in it, Dover Police said.

Officers also responded to several calls for disorderly/unruly persons which were largely handled without arrests, according to Dover Police spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman.

In a particularly colorful incident, an intoxicated man stripped naked, streaked through the venue and knocked over sound gear at the festival, the Associated Press reported. The 21-year-old festival attendee from Odessa knocked around some DJ equipment at the Bud Light Dive Bar tent while in the nude, authorities said.

A criminal mischief charge was entered and the defendant was taken to a medical tent due to his intoxication levels, the AP reported.

There were several major drug busts, mostly involving LSD, THC and ecstasy.

During Firefly, there were at least 23 citations for illegal underage entry into a liquor store were issued to those under 21 years old, with fines up to $155 resulting. Besides the initial $50 fine, court costs and a victim’s compensation fee was also added.

Three underage possession/consumption offenses were cited, four possessions of fictitious identification, two possessions of marijuana and a provide alcohol to underage person counts were filed. There were 13 fake identification cards seized, including those during arrests.

Other agencies involved
Medical and enforcement support are the most visible on the festival grounds, but several state agencies, including DelDOT and DNREC, do a lot of work behind the scenes.
Helping to manage the huge influx of traffic Firefly draw is DelDOT’s perennial concern. The agency deployed a number of drones and “portable camera stations” as well this year to assist with logistics.

“Overall, we feel that traffic management for the event went very well,” said department spokesman Charles “C.R.” McLeod. “We experienced little to no delays on arterial roadways, and only intermittent minor delays on local roads closest to the festival lots.

“A bigger problem was unrelated crashes on Rt. 1 on back to back days that impacted both beach and festival traffic heading south. It’s a collaborative effort with multiple agencies and the festival owners and we are very happy with the event from a transportation perspective.

“This being the eighth festival, we feel we have developed and executed a good traffic management plan to get guests in and out efficiently without negatively impacting the greater Dover area.”

As for DNREC, the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Mosquito Control Section coordinated with Firefly organizers before the start of the festival to perform an assessment of adult mosquitos on the grounds.
As a result, the section performed a 2,454-acre aerial insecticide application to control excessive numbers of mosquitoes at the site prior to the event.

DNREC spokesman Michael Globetti said the application was “very successful.”
“Festival organizers reported very low numbers of mosquitoes during the event and received no complaints from festival attendees, an outcome that ensured attendees were better able to enjoy this major outdoor event,” he said.

Mr. Globetti also noted that the agency’s Emergency Response Team played a role in the state’s joint hazardous assessment team alongside Delaware State Police’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team. .

“DNREC’s role when onsite is to be prepared for radiation, toxic industrial chemicals and/or weapons of mass destruction and to support DSP with any task needing DNREC’s assistance,” he said. “In addition, DNREC’s Emergency Response Team can provide rapid field identification of suspected drugs in liquid or solid form when assisting law enforcement.

The joint hazardous assessment team is supported by the Kent County Decontamination Team operated by the Little Creek Volunteer Fire Company and the Delaware National Guard’s 31st Civil Support Team for weapons of mass destruction.”

Craig Anderson contributed to this report.

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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