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Safety labeled just as important as fireworks at Cooper's Lake shows

| Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, 6:12 p.m.

The Pyrotechnics Guild International won't just be hauling in tons of fireworks to light up the sky over the Cooper's Lake Campground during its annual convention this week, it will be bringing in a medical crew to safeguard the health of more than 30,000 people.

PGI will have emergency medical technicians and fire crews on site. It also will have a two-bed emergency room with at least one doctor on duty at all times, said Dan Creagan, president of the guild.

“We emphasize to our people you have to do this the right way,” said Creagan. “Safe distance, containment, we usually exceed them. We make darn sure whatever we do is a step beyond what is required.”

The guild will present four nights of public fireworks displays throughout the week.

Northwest EMS Services of McKees Rocks, which has worked events at the site before, will have units on standby in accordance with state health regulations, Creagan said.

Those regulations require one staffed and Pennsylvania-licensed ambulance for a special event attended by 5,000 to 25,000 people, and two staffed ambulances for between 25,000 and 55,000 attendees.

Slippery Rock Volunteer Fire Department will provide additional assistance as needed, Creagan said.

The Pyrotechnics Guild has small water tanks and pumps, but it needs back-up from Slippery Rock's large fire trucks, although Creagan said it is “extremely doubtful” they would be needed.

The guild doesn't normally have problems at its conventions, which showcase the latest in fireworks displays. In 40 years there have been some minor injuries among attendees, such as heat exhaustion and particles in the eyes, but nothing large enough to result in an insurance claim, Creagan said.

Creagan said PGI is coordinating its efforts with local hospitals, PennDOT, state and local police and life flight services.

All fireworks will be fired from a field adjacent to Cooper's Lake campground, said Creagan.

Debris left by detonated fireworks will be picked up by a team of 40 to 50 people each night. Detonated fireworks leave paper, paste and string, all of which are all biodegradable.

Creagan said the guild has a controlled burn permit, and the remnants of paper and string are destroyed each night.

“We don't want to take off and leave a pile of junk behind,” he said.

Cooper's Lake Campground sits next to Moraine State Park. Assistant park Manager Jake Weiland is anticipating a higher volume of visitors to Moraine this week.

“There are going to be many folks on the lake along the north shore,” he said. “And I'm certain there will be many blankets sprawled out in the mowed areas with families watching the shows.”

Moraine State Park closes at 8 p.m., but Weiland said people who stay to watch fireworks won't be ordered to leave.

The park manager is strongly encouraging people to purchase tickets to public displays, because a good view is not guaranteed at Moraine.

“Your best bet is to purchase the ticket and enjoy the show from Cooper's Lake,” Weiland said.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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