The Wells Fargo Championship in New Hanover County was an overwhelming success. Around 25,000 spectators descended on Eagle Point Golf Club each day during the first week of May. The economic impact – ranging from hotel stays and local vendors to restaurants and area non-profits – was a boon for our region.
The week went smoothly with limited traffic problems, and that is – in large part – because of the unified command approach New Hanover County implemented. In preparation for this large event, county employees worked for more than a year to provide the necessary public safety support for the championship.
A Unified Incident Command was established, staffed with experts from New Hanover County’s Sheriff’s Office, Fire Rescue, Emergency Management/911 and New Hanover Regional EMS to provide public safety services to the community. This coordinated effort ensured that spectators, volunteers, golfers, workers and area residents were safe, healthy and secure throughout the tournament week.
The Unified Incident Command structure is a national model. It allows multiple agencies to work together as an integrated, collaborative team. Our local team showed the effectiveness and success of this unified approach, ensuring that all agencies were collaborating, resources were utilized effectively, efforts were not duplicated, and the priorities of all public service agencies were in line with one another.
The command worked directly with Wells Fargo Championship operational staff, as well as agencies like the NC Department of Transportation, NC State Highway Patrol, Pender County Sheriff’s Office and US Coast Guard to develop plans and align strategies for general operations and emergencies.
Our local command team developed contingency plans for spectator safety in the event of a variety of emergencies. It created efficient traffic plans to route shuttles and area residents, and worked throughout the tournament week as needs and issues arose. If you didn’t feel a huge impact or influx of congestion, that’s because of the team’s smart, thoughtful and detailed planning.
Numerous county departments were integral in the command structure, as well. Building Safety, for example, was in charge of inspecting all of the structures, including the chalets, stadium seats and tents that were built along the course. The county’s Environmental Health Department approved all the tournament’s food vendors, and worked during the tournament to ensure the food onsite was safe. These departments supported the Unified Incident Command, provided logistics updates and helped ensure the flow of information regarding any safety concerns.
Our Unified Incident Command team also showed nimbleness in response to parking pressure when the Hampstead area was inundated with spectators and parking was becoming limited. These leaders worked with the county, city and Cape Fear Community College to make parking areas available free of charge, which increased use of the downtown shuttle service. This ensured everyone that attended the tournament had easy access to parking and the shuttle system, and successfully alleviated overcrowding at the Hampstead lot.
These experts in our community were behind the scenes, but I want to bring their work and their level of commitment to the forefront. They deserve to be recognized for the skill and sophistication with which they carried out their responsibilities and the effective way they kept our residents and visitors safe.
I want to specifically thank the key members of the Unified Incident Command: Major Donald Taft with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Fire Chief Matt Davis with New Hanover County Fire Rescue, New Hanover County Emergency Management/911 Director Steven Still, and New Hanover EMS Battalion Chief Aaron Kasulis. They were supported by many other individuals, including Captain L.J. MacNeish, Battalion Chief Jennifer Smith, Captain Kevin McDonald and Lieutenant Jerry Brewer.
I think the week of the championship - which also included UNCW’s graduation ceremony and a One Tree Hill convention over the weekend - demonstrated our community can handle high demand and a great deal of pressure. This week showed we have a team of leaders that makes safety, security and ease for our residents and visitors paramount in all endeavors.
I am grateful to the Unified Incident Command and to the entire community for embracing the Wells Fargo Championship. This safe and successful week highlighted our beautiful slice of paradise and made our region proud.
I encourage you to visit EventsNHC.com to see a list of the many community partners that were integral in making this week a success in New Hanover County.
New Hanover County is committed to progressive public policy, superior service, courteous contact, judicious exercise of authority, and sound fiscal management to meet the needs and concerns of our citizens today and tomorrow. See more at http://www.nhcgov.com.
Christina Haley O'Neal - Apr 12, 2021
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