By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- Dealing with the worst on the day disaster strikes is too late. Planning can keep fairgoers safe.
With as many as 105,000 people visiting the Canfield Fair in a day, the fair "almost becomes its own little city," observed Walter M. Duzzny, director of the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency.
This little city, where so many people are crowded together, is susceptible to the same issues as any other city, Duzzny continued, including hazards caused by traffic, chemical spills, storms, medical emergencies or health issues.
Getting ready: To ensure fairgoers' safety, the Canfield Fair board and the county EMA hypothesize about everything that could pose a threat to the health, safety or well-being of those attending the fair, Duzzny said. Then, they formulate a plan to handle any emergency.
If there were a medical emergency, is medical support readily available? Could someone with a life-threatening illness or injury be transported to the hospital quickly and without incident? Is there adequate fire protection? Is there a process to move people out quickly and efficiently should the need to evacuate arise?
A lot of work behind the scenes goes into keeping everyone safe, Duzzny said. "We're all eternal optimists. We never think anything is going to happen." But because anything could happen, procedures for dealing with potential problems are updated regularly. There are pre- and post-fair meetings to explore ways to make the fair safer.
Everything from reducing bee stings and preventing outbreaks of disease among livestock to how to evacuate the grandstand is discussed, said Bev Fisher, fair manager.
The decision to put lids on trash cans came out of one of those meetings, she said. Fairgoers have suffered far fewer bee stings since then because the bees no longer hover around the cans.
Common problems: Many problems that occur at the fair have to do with fairgoers' neglecting to bring medications, such as insulin, or parents' failing to bring gear their children may require -- diapers, bottles and a change of clothes.
Although there is a general store on the fairgrounds that sells various supplies such as baby bottles and sunscreen, Duzzny said the best advice he can offer fairgoers is to use common sense. Bring medications and other supplies for the day and gas up vehicles before getting into areas congested with fair traffic.