‘A lot of training’: First responders and EMS prepare for PGA week

ROCHESTER, N.Y.- The PGA championship kicks off on May 15 at Oak Hill Country Club, just about six weeks away.

A lot of work goes into keeping people safe at large events, like the PGA championship. Pittsford Ambulance is the lead EMS agency for the event, partnering with several other agencies and fire crews.

First responders are preparing for any kind of emergency scenario.  They’re expecting around 40,000 people a day for the tournament.

“Our main goal is to provide a safe and secure venue, for the players, the spectators and all the volunteers and staff that’ll be coming every day,” says Lt. Andrew Soike, with Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Unit.

Soike said training begins a year in advance for the PGA.

“We’ve gone to 12 hour shifts across the patrol that week, to support and put the number of deputies on course that we need to provide adequate security,” he said.

Soike states you can expect to see a visible presence on the course, and on the roads for traffic control.

He said there’s no reason to believe the event won’t run smoothly — unless there’s some rain. But in today’s world, you can never be too safe.

MCSO has been running active shooter simulations. The most one, held at the Genesee Valley Golf course to emulate the terrain.

“We focused on how to communicate with each other, command and control, and the logistics of moving victims when you get into an outdoor environment,” explains Soike.

Training for large events involves multiple agencies. This includes Pittsford Ambulance, lead EMS for the tournament.

Chief Jonathan Smith said they started planning for the event in 2019.

“The normal population here in Pittsford is about 30,000 people, but the attendance at the PGA event is at least that much,” Smith said. “So the size of our town nearly doubles for a short period of time.”

He said all EMS members are CPR credentialed, ready to respond for any medical emergency. And perhaps you can be, too.

“It’s a huge determinant in a person’s success and survivability,” says Smith. “Someone in the community starting CPR before we arrive.”

Smith says Pittsford Ambulance generated one of the highest out-of-hospital survival rates in the Monroe County area. One reason for that has to do with a strong support system from the community, in the form of bystander CPR.

The week of the PGA happens to be National Law Enforcement Week, followed by National EMS Recognition Week.