“First and foremost, we want people to enjoy our parks and waterfront and to be safe. This is essential training that I certainly hope we will never need to utilize. We need to be prepared and we are.” – Mayor Bill Finch
Bridgeport, Conn. (July 1, 2015) – First responders conducted a training exercise Tuesday on Pleasure Beach rescuing a man who fell and was injured while walking on the breakwaters.
“First and foremost, we want people to enjoy our parks and waterfront and to be safe,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “This is essential training that I certainly hope we will never need to utilize. We need to be prepared and we are.”
According to Scott Appleby, the city’s Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Pleasure Beach training occurs annually. The park provides unique challenges to rescuers because it is only accessible from the shore in Bridgeport by boat.
With more moving parts, it is important to test the emergency plan, communications and the response of the first responders, he said.
Participating in the operation were the police and fire department harbor units, park department officials, lifeguards, American Medical Response, Emergency Management staff and members of the city’s 911 center.
“We want to ensure that everybody that comes out to Pleasure Beach has a safe and enjoyable day at the beach here,” said Appleby, “and most importantly that our first responders and the personnel of the city of Bridgeport understand the protocols and processes as they relate to any type of hazard that could impact us."
“We prepare for any time of hazard, and this one especially because of the challenges of access to Pleasure Beach. We want to make sure we’re capable of handling that, and we are,” he added.
The city will conduct a similar exercise in Seaside Park later this month.
“We have great parks that we encourage people to come out and take advantage of them,” Steven Hladun, the Special Projects Coordinator for the Parks Department. “And, we want people to feel confident that if they need help for any reason, our first responders are prepared and have a plan.”
Pleasure Beach re-opened last year for the first time in nearly two decades in 2014, and thousands of kids and families have flocked to the beautiful, 71-acre barrier island, many for the first time.
A short, free ride on a water taxi bring beach goers up at the fishing pier and then it’s a short walk to summer fun on the sandy beaches.
Along the way, people can soak in the views or step back in time and learn about Pleasure Beach’s history on the historic walking tour, which consists of 24 beautiful plaques that chronologically showcase the peninsula's history.
Pleasure Beach has a storied history from serving as home to an amusement park built by Coney Island famed George C. Tilyou, to housing a baseball field owned by Hall of Famer James O’Rourke, to being visited by former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, to holding concerts for famous musicians like Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra.
Bridgeport took ownership of Pleasure Beach in 1892. It served as home to a nationally acclaimed amusement park and ballroom for the first half of the 20th century. But fires and declining visitor numbers put the amusement park out of business in 1966.
The barrier island continued to go from periods of revival and decay until Father’s Day of 1996 when the bridge to Pleasure Beach set ablaze. The bridge was deemed unusable after the fire, and Pleasure Beach remained inaccessible. But last year Mayor Finch restored access to the barrier island after nearly two decades of neglect.
And the improvements continue. Currently. the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is executing a $2 million dollar investment in repairing breakwaters off the Pleasure Beach shoreline