May 31--Mayor Rahm Emanuel said today that he agreed with the decision Monday by Chicago police to close North Avenue Beach after several people began showing signs of heat-related sickness.
The beach was closed about 6 p.m. after Chicago Fire Department paramedics were called to the beach to deal with several people who required medical attention.
At least four people were taken to area hospitals from the beach including one 18-year-old who was taken in serious-to-critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital during the Memorial Day holiday.
Emanuel said today he was not consulted before the shutdown and promised a review of the decision-making process behind the closure. But at first blush he thinks police "took the appropriate steps" so paramedics could get to people in distress.
"They shut the beach down to deal with what they had to deal with," Emanuel said while speaking about a deal with Comcast to provide low-cost Internet and computers for low-income Chicagoans.
"Think about the opposite, if they didn't take those steps," he said. "There would be a different set of questions here, a whole set of other questions."
"We will do like what I did after the blizzard: What did we do right, what do we need to strengthen on, and we'll have an after-action report," he said.
The Chicago Police Departm,ent released this statement today regarding the decision:
"The Chicago Police Department encourages Chicago's residents and visitors to take advantage of the city's world-class lakefront, beautiful parks and countless other attractions. However, public safety must always remain our number one priority. Thousands of beach-goers travelled to North Avenue beach yesterday, to enjoy the holiday and the onset of warmer temperatures in Chicago. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications received several calls in the early evening regarding heat-related illnesses at the beach. The Chicago Fire Department initiated an EMS Plan 1, requiring the response of multiple ambulances. Access to individuals calling for emergency medical services was hampered because of the crowded conditions at the beach. In addition, several individuals who did not call 911 for emergency medical services requested assistance on the scene from responding EMS personnel. After consultation with CFD personnel, the Chicago Police Department made the decision to close the beach. The Chicago Police Department has the authority and responsibility to take such action in the interest of public safety, and has done so in the past. We thank our public safety partners for their service and cooperation, and the public for their understanding as we worked together to provide safe conditions for everyone."
Firefighters said Monday that they also set up a misting hose to cool people off as they left the beach.
This morning workers were greeted by a beach strewn with garbage.
"The bottom line is, that was a great deal of trash," Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said. "My guess is people perhaps got up without doing what they normally do" to clean up because the police closed the beach and they had to leave abruptly, she said.
North Avenue Beach was clean by mid-afternoon Tuesday, Maxey-Faulkner said.