BRISTOL, Tenn./Va. - With the Rhythm & Roots Reunion underway, keeping festival-goers safe is a big job. We talked to police to get the facts on what goes into festival security.
There are some unique challenges to police for a festival of this size to and keep visitors safe and healthy.
We spent Friday checking out the plans to find out exactly what emergency services are planning for this weekend. The first stop was the Bristol, Virginia Fire Department, where we spoke to chief J.C. Bolling. "We have additional personnel on. We're manning an additional engine which will also cover the ATV," he said.
Bolling tells us the ATV is a small highly-mobile rescue vehicle that can navigate the crowds better than a full-size fire truck or ambulance without sacrificing rescue ability. "We carry on it everything we normally carry on an engine for emergency medical operations," he said.
Bolling says they're prepared for anything. "We're not just a fire department, we're an all-emergency agency," he told us. They have even moved the Hazmat and heavy rescue trucks at the department's training facility for easier access in an emergency, emergencies the police are working to prevent according to police captain Maynard Ratcliff. "We have police officers from both sides of Bristol who will be posted here all weekend long, day and night," he said. "We try to make the atmosphere as safe as we can possibly make it."
We even saw the bomb squad out sweeping Cumberland Square Park. Captain Ratcliff tells us they will be patrolling the festival all weekend.
Officers will also be keeping a close watch on the train tracks too, after fans were caught climbing over and under a parked train last year to get to the concerts. "We will be monitoring that situation. Norfolk Southern will have their police monitoring that situation, so hopefully that won't occur this year," Ratcliff said.
Captain Ratcliff also told us that if you're at Rhythm & Roots and need help, just find the nearest officer. Some of them are wearing high-visibility green shirts. You can head to the mobile command post on Fifth Street.