Hartford services played supporting role at U.S. Open

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News

June 22, 2017

Members of at least three city of Hartford departments played important supporting roles at the recently completed U.S. Open Championship at Erin Hills.

City Administrator Steve Volkert said the city’s Fire and Rescue and Wastewater Treatment departments had extensive involvement in behind the scene services at the championship event. He said he received “a few phone calls regarding the fallout of the U.S. Open.”

“Different departments had varying roles in this event. Fire and Rescue did a phenomenal job both on the grounds and back here at home,” Volkert said. “They had over (during the tournament) 1,500 patient contacts through the week between the three first-aid tents, our bicycle teams and our cart teams.”

Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Stephans said members of his department at the U.S. Open were “extremely busy.”

“The severe heat and humidity we had over a few days really took its toll on some of the spectators who were attending the event,” Stephans said. “That created a lot of work for EMS and first aid that were staffing the event.”

Volkert said the worst day of the extreme heat was Friday, with 302 contacts.

“Saturday was second at 260, and Sunday they had better weather and more than 170 contacts,” Volkert said. “With all of the extra issues that took place both out there (blimp, death, E. coli) and back here, our Fire and Rescue did a phenomenal job.”

Stephans said members of his department had to work at the U.S. Open site during the same difficult conditions that public suffered through.

“They took all the necessary precautions,” Stephans said. “We made sure that everybody stayed hydrated and made sure we rotated our shifts so that nobody overworked. It was physically difficult, but we were well prepared and everyone took care of themselves so they could take care of others.”

Stephans said the plans that he and others had put together for the event went as they had prepared for.

“As a person who has spent close to two years planning for the event and then to have the plan really be tested both on-site and off-site emergencies, it’s very gratifying to see your staff perform at such a high level and make the plan come through,” Stephans said.

Volkert said the Police Department was at a beefed up state during the tournament week, but saw no impact from the golf tournament.

Chief (David) Groves reported that no calls could be attributed to the tournament. Despite having staff at the tournament, 911 calls in the city were handled without a hitch.

“During the planning process we never lost sight of our number one priority and that’s to provide 911 coverage for the communities that we serve. That’s where we started,” Stephans said. “It should be emphasized that we, the Hartford Fire Department, worked with our neighboring departments to make sure we didn’t lose any coverage on our 911 service. We had West Bend Fire Department, their paramedics, their ambulance, we used Life Star Ambulance and we used Ashippun Fire Department to staff the event so we didn’t spread ourself too thin here in the city.”

Stephans said “even though everyone of us felt fatigued and tired by the end of the week, we understood that we were the envy of a lot of fire departments in this country with the call volume and the severity of calls and our people were very, very proud of their performance. That’s great for morale in a department like us.”

The city’s Wastewater Utility Department was praised for how they handled the around-the-clock service to the liquid waste haulers for the tournament.

“Much of our limited staff took swing shifts to make our facility open to serve when needed from 9 p.m.-6 a.m.,” Volkert said.

The city’s Parks and Public Works departments, Volkert said, also pushed up efforts to make the city look great for any influx in visitors there might have been.

“Thanks to them for helping us put our best food forward and giving visitors a great first impression,” Volkert said.

Volkert said in 2016, a year prior to the US Open, the USGA clearly stated that economic impact on the city of Hartford would be minimal as their system was to get visitors from federal highways to the facility and back. “The work that our staff did was not in expectation of visitors that were never guaranteed, but merely to help in the event that we got some spill over,” Volkert said. “While several people have unjustifiably grumbled that more tourism dollars weren’t spent in local establishments that week, it should be pointed out that having this event will have residual effects on our community for many years to come.”

Volkert said “no one is to blame for us not getting something that no one ever said that we would.”