Police: Safety first at Mardi Gras

ALBANY, Ga. -- Whether it is a splinter, scrape or a heart attack, medical aid will be available at Saturday's athletic events and the downtown Mardi Gras celebration.

"We have two ambulances to set up at the event's sites for first aid with trained, off-duty, volunteer paramedics," said Chuck Mitchell commander of the Albany-Dougherty Search and Rescue team. "I carry a digital radio to call Dougherty EMS direct if we need them for a more severe situation."

Mitchell said his team will be at three events Saturday: The Snickers Marathon Bar Marathon and half-marathon, the SB&T Bike Race and the Mardi Gras festival.

Equipped with four-wheelers, golf carts and a Kawasaki Mule vehicle, Mitchell's team can move through congested areas bringing first aid and oxygen where it is needed. If they need to move a victim to allow better access for an ambulance, they have the capability.

Dougherty EMS Director Bobby Tripp will have an ambulance available during the bike race because it has a history of injuries.

Otherwise, his team will remain alert for any calls from Mitchell's team. The county will have its usual coverage as well.

"We don't expect much of a problem at the festival because the weather isn't supposed to be hot," Tripp said. "Everyone should stay hydrated no matter the weather."

The Albany Fire Department plans around the roads that will be congested bringing people downtown to the festival at the 200 block of West Broad Avenue.

"We'll be a little more on alert than usual," said Fire Chief James Carswell. "All our stations know our routes to respond to different parts of the city."

To handle the crowds and traffic, extra Albany Police Department officers have been assigned to work. Officers will be on foot monitoring the crowds and patrolling the downtown area during the event, said Capt. Reginald Brown of the department's Special Operations Unit.

The Dougherty County Police Department sends staff to assist with traffic during the marathon, said Capt. Jim Sexton.