Firefly kept safety workers busy

DOVER — Neither “Hawkeye” Pierce or “Hot Lips” Houlihan were anywhere to be seen at the Firefly Music Festival at The Woodlands at Dover International Speedway last weekend.

But when it came to how emergency workers were able to treat the 90,000 guests that temporarily invaded the city that’s how Colin T. Faulkner, the Kent County Department of Public Safety Chief, described what it looked like — a scene right out of the old TV series M*A*S*H.

“The only thing missing was the military green,” Chief Faulkner said, “but we were working in tents and things could get pretty hectic at times. Clearly a lot of issues were heat related. And heat exhaustion coupled with alcohol consumption worsens the situation for the person. When they combined the two they’d often get dizzy and pass out. Some folks were so intoxicated they couldn’t even walk.

“Anytime you have an event as big as Firefly there’s usually going to be a lot of drama and drug use. We had some drug overdoses, but probably the big thing was alcohol consumption and heat.”

Doctors and nurses on site dealt with everything from dehydration, some fainting due to heat, ankle injuries and blisters and gave out eye wash for dust, according to Danielle Pro, media center coordinator for Bayhealth Medical Center.

Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman, spokesman for the Dover Police Department, said that officers were kept plenty busy, but for the most part the festival goers were there just to enjoy a good time.

“We just had typical things such as disorderly conduct, some theft and trespassing with some people trying to sneak into the festival,” Cpl. Hoffman said. “There were some drug overdoses and some who consumed too much alcohol, but there was nothing really out of the ordinary.”

Chief Faulkner said emergency workers treated “thousands” of people in their tents at The Woodlands. He added that around 500 or so had to be placed on Gator utility vehicles and transported before they received treatment. Some were taken to Bayhealth for additional treatment and observation though no official numbers were available Monday afternoon.

“It was not just [Kent County], it was a whole host of public safety workers and agencies that worked together to make sure everybody’s complaints were met,” he said.

“Everybody got the care they needed. There’s always the potential for bad things to happen but we didn’t have anything to do that we weren’t prepared for.

“I don’t think people realize the back story and the effort that goes into this. Really, the busiest folks out there are the EMS folks. People are just dropping everywhere and our EMTs have to get to them through this massive crowd of people.”

Chief Faulkner also gave credit to the department’s 911 dispatchers who received directions to individuals in distress and were able to guide the EMTs to them.

One thing that Dover’s Linda Deaton said she has never had to fear for at Firefly has been her safety. She has attended every Firefly music festival since its inception five years ago with her husband Glenn.

“After attending Firefly for my fifth year and watching it grow yearly, it is amazing the coordinated efforts that go into ensuring the safety of festival goers and local community as well,” she said. “The efforts that go into providing a safe environment is amazing … but most of all, the fans themselves are more relaxed and truly here to enjoy the four-plus days of music.

“They are not here to cause issues and, having met several of the campers, they do a good job of policing themselves. Yes, there are always going to be incidents, especially when you have that many people in one spot, but overall, safety did not concern me.”

Cpl. Hoffman was relieved that another Firefly has come and gone without any major incidents.

“Thankfully, there were no major incidents and it didn’t appear we had any major injuries,” he said. “As far as the success of the event goes it seemed like everybody was there to have a good time and it appeared as if they did.

“All in all, it seemed to go as smooth as expected for an event of this magnitude.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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