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Tailgating, UCLA Style: Playing It Safe

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Being safe on game day isn’t a problem because it’s all been taken care of.

Northwestern Wildcats v UCLA Bruins
Safety Eric McNeal blocks a field goal attempt by Northwestern in 2005.
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

You may be looking at this photo and wondering why the heck there is a picture of a field goal attempt in an article about tailgating.

Well, this week, we’re talking about safety, and Eric McNeal is one of my favorites. Why? Because he intercepted a pass by John David Booty late in the fourth quarter on December 2, 2006. That interception would cement one of the greatest scores of all time.

13-9.

I’ll never forget it. I’ll also never forget the day I had to have my wedding ring cut off my finger at the Rose Bowl because I decided to wear it while playing football. I jammed my finger and it swelled like a balloon. Little did I know that the Rose Bowl paramedics have a special tool just for removing rings from swollen fingers.

Everyone was laughing. Yeah, it was awesome.

But in all seriousness, I didn’t think I could wrap up a whole summer of articles on tailgating without mentioning something about safety. We’ve all heard the tag line, “drink responsibly”, but that’s not all we’re talking about here, folks. Maybe it’s because a major forest fire was just a few miles from my house last week, and I saw fire truck after fire truck making its way into the disaster when I had the luxury of running away from it, if I had to. Our first responders are amazing people, and those that work the Rose Bowl on game days are no different.

Let’s get back to those paramedics and the first aid station. If you ever need it, and I hope you don’t, it’s located near Gate B. When I was there, I saw A LOT of people nearly dehydrated. It was hot, and frankly most people would not have been in there if they had just consumed more water that day. Don’t forget how dehydrated you get when/if you consume alcohol, and how compounded that can get when it’s 90 degrees plus. It’s an easy thing to forget when you’re having fun.

There’s also a public safety building located between Gate A and B. This is more for police type assistance.

But, who staffs these areas and where do these wonderful humans come from? According to the Pasadena Fire Department/Emergency Medical Reserve website, “the safety and health of...spectators are protected by a partnership of the Pasadena Fire Department, the Pasadena Fire Department EMS Reserve and the San Gabriel Pomona Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. At the largest of these events, additional EMS services are even provided by other Los Angeles area fire departments and private ambulance companies”.

Safety was a major concern when the renovation of the Rose Bowl facility began. According to a 2014 press release, “that was addressed with the addition of the Unified Command Center, which houses every stadium operation, including fire, EMS, security, California Highway Patrol (CHP), and representatives for parking, the general stadium, and the city of Pasadena”. They have teams on foot, ambulance carts for injured players and fans should they need it, and special medical dispatch (including UCLA game management staff) operating out of the Rose Bowl Command Center. Additionally, “regardless of event size, all foot teams are equipped with Automated External Defibrillators, oxygen and full trauma kits”.

On top of that, they monitor 150 cameras in the stadium, 30 that shoot the perimeter, and there’s even someone that is dedicated to monitoring all social media on event days to look for incidents, down to pedestrian and traffic flow.

This is serious business.

We are well taken care of. I honestly had never put much thought into the EMS services that are present on game day ”just in case”. But I’ll tell you one thing—I feel a whole heck of a lot better knowing they’re around.

17 days until kickoff...

Go Bruins!