Keeping visitors safe at the Ozark Empire Fair takes months of planning

GREENE COUNTY, Mo. One of the largest annual events in Greene County starts Thursday.

However, some preperations for the Ozark Empire Fair are kept behind the scenes in the Office of Emergency Management's mobile unit called the Skylab.

"To keep people safe and have a good time," said director of fair security, Mike Ashbee

He has been managing security for the Ozark Empire Fair for decades. Ashbee said planning for the event of the summer takes months of coordination.

"A lot of things go into play in a short period time. It all comes from first aid, EMS, OEM, police, fire, ambulance, just coming together and all doing our part," he said.

"Anything can happen. It's important to have those resources so that you can tackle whatever you need to," said Sam Foster, Deputy Director for Springfield - Greene County Office of Emergency Managment.

Foster said getting a game plan well ahead of the fair is crucial.

"Plans for weather, children. Anything like that that we would need so that our partners are on the same page on how to respond to those different incidents," she said.

OEM's mobile unit, known as Skylab is the hub for all first responding agencies.

"We have all of the same capabilities within this vehicle that we have would at the public safety center. There's a lot of different technology all crammed into one vehicle," said Foster.

Her team has what they need to dispatch crews in times of emergencies.

"Everything from a missing kid, to locate them quickly, safely and reuniting them with their parent to even having severe weather come in.
We have lightning detection equipment on here. We have a weather station that's up on top of Skylab," she said.

Last week's tragedy in Branson serves as a reminder to be on guard.

"If there's weather coming we don't want to put peoples' lives in danger on any of the rides or anything like that.
Being able to know that that's in the area is super important to keep everyone safe," said Foster.

She and Ashbee work to make sure that everyone who hops on a ride or eats a carnival treat has the best time possible.

"We can take care of what we need to take care of to keep everyone safe," said Foster.

Ashbee said, "It's a fun, family environment and safe."