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Emergency responders prepare for St. Patrick’s Day double-header

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St. Patrick’s Day revelers and emergency responders are preparing for two days of partying over the weekend in London.

With the Irish-themed celebration falling on a Sunday this year, revelers are expected to flock to house parties and bars beginning Saturday and lasting into Sunday night.

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The annual festivities typically draw thousands of green-clad partygoers to the streets around Western University, Fanshawe College and the city’s core, where police have pledged to have a beefed-up presence.

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“We’ll make sure the boots are on the street,” police spokesperson Const. Matt Dawson said Friday.

Although past St. Patrick’s Days have seen a spike in calls to police and an increase in hospital visits, the event has been relatively tame in recent years with no major incidents reported. Police and bylaw officers typically spend the day responding to house parties and dealing with noise complaints, public urination and alcohol infractions.

In past years, police have set up a mobile command centre as part of the strategy to keep a lid on rowdy behavior, but that won’t be the case this year, Dawson said.

“There are people on standby that are ready,” he said of deploying additional police resources if required.

The weather plays a big role in the turnout on St. Patrick’s Day. Forecasters are calling for an unseasonably warm Saturday, when the mercury will hit a daytime high of 11 C with a chance of showers. The temperatures are expected to drop below freezing overnight and the daytime high for Sunday is 4 C.

Revelers make their way to a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the Belfort, a Piccadilly Street night club in London, on Thursday March 17, 2022. (Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press)

London hospitals are also ready to handle a potentially busy weekend.

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“With big events like St. Patrick’s Day or (Western University) Homecoming, for instance, we have a lot of planning under way to ensure we’re supporting our community,” said Dr. Christie MacDonald, the department head of emergency medicine for the London Health Sciences Centre.

Past year have seen patients coming to the emergency rooms for a range of injuries on St. Patrick’s Day, MacDonald said.

“Sometimes it’s due to ingestion of alcohol or any other substances, and sometimes it can be anything from a small, twisted ankle to a bigger trauma,” she said. “Thankfully, we don’t see a ton of injuries . . . but we’re certainly prepared.”

Hospital officials will be in close communication throughout the weekend to ensure that enough beds available and staffing levels are sufficient, said MacDonald, who had a message for anyone planning on celebrating over the weekend: “Be safe. Make responsible decisions.”

Both Western and Fanshawe work closely with police to prepare for St. Patrick’s Day and handle any unexpected events. The post-secondary schools urged their students to be responsible and reminded them of the resources available to ensure they have a safe weekend.

“Mustangs, you’re almost at the finish line for the winter term. We’re proud of all the hard work you’ve put in so far,” Western wrote in a social-media post. “Let’s keep that energy up as we head into the final stretch. If you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, please do so safely.”

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

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