Busy Seafair for Island police, fire departments

Mercer Island police and firefighters got through one of the busiest Seafair weekends in recent history last Sunday. The annual event, which brings thousands to the waters and shores of Lake Washington, saw record crowds this year, mostly due to the 80-degree weather and cloudless skies. And record crowds meant record emergency calls.

According to the Mercer Island Fire Department’s Seafair spokesman, Scott Logsdon, the number of 911 calls were up significantly this year as compared to Seafair 2008. The incidents ranged from heat exhaustion to severe boat propeller accidents, Logsdon said.

“There were a lot of people with dehydration and heat stroke. There were calls about minor to major lacerations from boat propellers and there were a few intoxication calls,” the firefighter said.

Logsdon was one of dozens of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), police officers and firefighters who serviced the Island’s emergency aid station at Proctor Landing throughout Seafair weekend. The operation base was busy at all hours, Friday through Sunday, as medical calls were being relayed across the lake. Emergency response was a joint effort between Mercer Island and Seattle’s fire, police and marine patrol, as well as the Washington State Patrol.

In retrospect, Logsdon said the three-day operation ran smoothly.

Mercer Island Fire Chief Chris Tubbs, who worked alongside Logsdon, agreed.

“We’ve been involved with the Seafair aid station for 30 or more years. We had all resources on duty, whether at [Proctor Landing] or out on regular dispatch,” he said.

There were no fatalities reported this year, according to Tubbs. The most serious incident, he said, happened when a female, non-Island resident suffered alcohol intoxication. As of Saturday, Aug. 1, the 23-year-old was reportedly in critical condition. Tubbs had not heard any further information on her health since Saturday.

Alcohol-related incidents dominated the Mercer Island police and marine patrol’s weekend report as well. There were 110 Boating Under the Influence (BUI) arrests between Friday and Sunday, according to Mercer Island Police Commander Leslie Burns. This compares with 83 BUIs last year and 155 in 2007. But to balance this number, Burns said she met “an awful lot of designated [boat] drivers” and “quite a few” boats that were alcohol-free.

“I contacted a number of designated drivers and boats without any alcohol. This is a big switch from the past,” she said, crediting increased media awareness about the dangers of drinking and boating at Seafair. “I definitely think the promotion paid off.”

Over the following weeks, the MIPD and fire department will begin conducting its “post-incident analysis,” in which officials will discuss how this year’s Seafair efforts went, what can be done to improve safety and ways to facilitate emergency response and prevention. The analysis, according to Tubbs, is a “dynamic and ongoing process” that will continue throughout the year until next year’s Seafair celebration.

More Seafair incidents can be found in this week’s Police Report, page 7.

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