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Golf course not exempt to emergency situations

The provincial government is reminding residents to “be emergency ready.”

Saskatchewan is joining other provinces proclaiming May 6 to 12 as Emergency Preparedness Week. In recent years the province has experienced severe events such as wildfires, floods, and severe weather events. Golfers could easily be affected by several emergency situations themselves. Adam Helmer, Director of Rules, Competitions and Amateur Status, sits on the Health and Safety Committee for Golf Canada. He said for sanctioned tournaments protocols are in place for emergency situations. He said private and community owned courses have their own responsibilities to keep golfers safe.

“For day-to-day play it’s the responsibilityof the golf course to put up signs and make players aware of anything potentially going on in the area whether it’s severe weather or wildlife that could put people at risk,” he said.

Dangerous wildlife isn’t a key concern for Saskatchewan golf courses, in many cases damage from deer and other animals is more of an issue than safety. Severe weather can move into a region without much warning in the province. Helmer said again, the course itself needs to have plans in place to warn golfers and a plan to get them off the course as quickly as possible.

“At Golf Canada events we’re very cautious, depending on how far the storm is away we’ll blow the horn and get everyone off the course well in advance of any threat,” Helmer said. “It varies with clubs in terms of what they use in terms of sophistication for tracking storm systems and if they have a siren or alarm on the course. We subscribe to an online system that is used by meteorologists on the PGA and LPGA Tours to ensure we are protecting players, volunteers, spectators and staff”

Avoiding high ground or isolated trees, staying away from water, doors, windows, and metal objects. Seek shelter inside a building or within a vehicle if possible, do not use a golf cart for protection. If you are in an open area during a storm, lie in a low-lying area, if you are surrounded by trees seek safety in a low area under a group of smaller trees.

Health is also a concern on a golf course. Sometimes medical treatment may be a significant distance from a golf course. Helmer said Golf Canada is working with courses to be equipped with Automated External Defibrillators (AED’s).

“Hockey Canada has done a good job in this area educating the industry to encourage people to have defibrillators in rinks and we’ve all heard the stories of adult hockey leagues or someone going into cardiac arrest on the ice. It can happen in golf too, even if you are just a few holes away, an AED or knowing CPR could save someone’s life,” he said.