Both are admittedly tired and looking forward to the end of an over five month strain on resources to make sure the Ultra Electronic Music Festival on Virginia Key with approximately 180,000 attendees expected over three days this weekend goes over without incident on Key Biscayne.
So far both chiefs are pleased with the confirmed safety and well-being of island residents and visitors.
“We’ve been against this from the start,” said Chief of Police Charles Press.
“We knew it was not a good fit for an island with one road in and one road out and that played itself out last night. Fortunately and thankfully nobody was hurt. However I think we all agree that it’s just too large of an event for Key Biscayne and Virginia Key.”
“We are doing the best we can to work our way through this thing,” said Press.
“We got two more days and I can’t wait for April Fools’ Day.”
Fire Chief Eric Lang confirmed there have been five medical emergencies and one fire so far mid-way through the event late Saturday afternoon.
Both emergency evacuations to Mercy Hospital and Jackson Medical Center took approximately 16 minutes safely without incident.
Each occurred (one Friday and one Saturday) in the early afternoon before the festival evening traffic intensified. The other emergencies did not require off island transport. None involved Ultra visitors or festival guests said Lang.
The palm tree fire at the end of the concert last night was handled by City of Miami Fire Rescue. The brush fire on the key was at the 600 block of Curtiswood and caused by an accidental electrical mailbox and quickly extinguished.
The first emergency ground evacuation was accompanied by a City of Miami police escort. Both chiefs credit the synergistic efforts of supporting agencies for smooth operations thus far.
“There has been a tremendous amount of preparation since November, and this past week, and we kicked off yesterday what we call the Unified Command Post,” said Fire Chief Lang.
“City of Miami Fire, Police, and both county agencies and the Coast Guard is there…state, local and federal assets all in one place. It is more than a communication and operation exchange all in one place. It is set up like an emergency operations center.”
The Mast Academy location of the unified command post is an effective way for all agencies to operate out of a central location and specifically help provide Key Biscayne with life, fire, medical safety protection as their mission requires said Lang.
Chief Press was especially grateful for Miami Dade Police providing nine police officers full time throughout the entire festival on the key. This is along with the total staff of the Key
Biscayne Police Force that is reporting for duty all weekend.
Press said the beach patrols have reported near empty beaches and his marine patrol equally unremarkable. As far as he is aware that has been the case so far for the city marine patrols as well.
Press and Lang are both working on the key all weekend long essentially around the clock with what sounds like short cat naps in the early morning quiet hours before reporting to Village Manager Andrea Agha.
“I’m tired we are all tired,” said Chief Press.
“A lot of that has to do with the five months of planning and attending meetings and addressing the concerns of the people who live here.”
“This has been dominating our lives for a long time and it’s exhausting but we have a great team. Our police and fire have done a fantastic job and the village manager and council have been on top of this from the very beginning.”
“We are working hard and this is what we do when things get crazy…this is what we do. So regardless, we will continue to do our jobs until this is over.”