What happens when 90,000-some country music fans descend on Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to show their love and appreciation for country stars like Jake Owen, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, The Band Perry, and others? Why, Country Jam, of course — "Wisconsin's premier country music festival." Behind the scenes, lots of folks are working to ensure those who attend this annual three-day concert event are able to do so safely and happily. Not least among them are crews from our very own Gold Cross, who for 25 years now have been patrolling the festival grounds to make sure the music and fun continue to flow as smoothly as a warm summer breeze.
"It’s a pretty big deal," Glenn Lyden, Public Affairs, tells us. "Gold Cross has paramedics roaming the concert grounds on bikes and a 'souped-up' golf cart that carries a stretcher. They're also in a command center trailer, backstage and pretty much everywhere."
To get a feel for what it's like to oversee the emergency medical care at an event like Country Jam, we checked in with Tom Fennell, Gold Cross supervisor in Eau Claire, who was kind enough to give us a behind-the-scenes perspective on the lengths to which he and his team of 18 Gold Cross staff go to make sure everyone remains safe and sound.
Perhaps to no one's surprise, Fennell says the majority of the medical issues he and his team deal with can be traced back to both heat and alcohol. "When heat and humidity are high, we encounter dehydration cases and even see an increase in chronic breathing conditions like asthma," he says. And when it comes to alcohol, though Fennel says the Country Jam crowd is "generally milder" he says it's still "an event that can create lapses in judgment in some people."
When it does, the Gold Cross team is at the ready. "A very dedicated team of professional health care providers is available to the guests at any time," he says. "Whether it's handing out a Band-Aid, giving directions to different areas on the grounds, or performing their medical skills to the heights of their training, our staff are not only skilled providers of care, but also great ambassadors of Mayo Clinic's primary values and culture."
For those considering joining next year’s country jammers, Fennell suggests keeping hydrated and wearing sensible shoes, among other things. “Water between adult beverages will extend your enjoyment of the day/evening,” he says. “Also, people walk a lot at this event. Coming to Country Jam with a new pair of cowboy boots is not a good idea ... Blisters and foot pain from ill-fitting shoes do not go away quickly.”