LAKE FOREST — While more than 100,000 spectators watch the world’s top 70 golfers traverse Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, scores of city workers and Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital personnel are there too.
The public safety and other municipal workers as well as staff from the hospital were getting ready before the BMW Championships opened to the public Sept. 12 and will be busy after the last fan leaves Conway Farms September 17.
“People from Asia, Europe and all over the United States will see overhead views of Lake Forest on television,” said Mayor Robert Lansing in a July 27 DailyNorthShore.com story. “It’s a unique opportunity to show off Lake Forest and the North Shore to the world and really tout ourselves.”
Quietly making the city look good are members of the Lake Forest Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works Department and hospital personnel. Though they are not always visible, they have worked both in public and behind the scenes to ensure a smooth, short-term population explosion for Lake Forest.
“This is like a small city here,” said Lake Forest Deputy Police Chief Rob Copeland referring to the tournament site.
Townline Community Park on Highway 60 was converted to a unified command post for police, fire and emergency medical personnel. Lake Forest Fire Chief Pete Siebert said they are assisted by public safety staff from neighboring communities.
“We’re here to make sure people are safe and have the services they need,” said Siebert.
Along with police officers and firefighters from Lake Forest and surrounding communities, Copeland said assistance is present from the United States Marshals Service and the United States Postal Service.
“They screen all packages that come in here,” said Copeland referring to the postal service’s expertise.
Though public safety and hospital personnel do a fair amount of treating bee stings and directing traffic, in the past there was at least one time all hands were needed on deck. Conway hosted the tournament in 2013 and 2015 as well as this year. During 2015, thunder and lightning spurred everyone into action.
“We had to evacuate the entire course,” said Siebert. It was done without a serious incident.
Walking into the club through the entrance for members of the media, the first thing visible is a table with personnel from Northwestern Medicine. Behind them is a medical trailer where emergency medicine can be performed or a patient quickly transported to the hospital.
“We have everything here to stabilize the patient, said Dr. Michael Peters, the EMS medical director for Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. “We work very closely with the Lake Forest Fire Department. They are right outside our door.”
Peters and his staff sat there looking relaxed around 2:30 p.m. September 13 during the pro-am event. They had already treated 15 people including two professional golfers. The large crowds expected for the four days of competition had yet to arrive.
He said they can administer an MRI on the premises while a Northwestern Medicine physician like an orthopedic surgeon can remotely analyze the results.
Along with helping the athletes, the Northwestern team is there for everyone in attendance. Occasionally a spectator is hit by a golf ball and needs treatment for a laceration or bruising. Peters said the most common injury this time of year are bee stings.
“There can be anything from minor pain and swelling to anaphylaxis shock,” said Peters referring to a condition from a bee sting that can be fatal.
People who drive to and from the tournament see plenty of directional and instructional signs. Some of the spectators arrive in their own vehicle or come on a shuttle from the train station or remote parking lots as far away as Gurnee. The command center had to be built and will be taken down quickly after the tournament to return the park to public use.
Copeland said all logistics are handled by the city’s public works department, who also help direct traffic and point people to the proper entrance or parking lot.
“We couldn’t do any of this without them,” said Copeland.