Understanding Event Medical Planning
Event Management can be stressful. It’s #1 on event management for dummies. Even the most consummate professional will face an unexpected situation that causes them to get some grey hairs. When talking to event professionals, it’s a question I get asked a lot, and one that can often confuse many event managers: What is Event Medical Planning & Event Paramedic Cover?. It’s two skills that form part of one service.
After How Event Planners Choose Venues, I decided to write this post, because another important decision should be how much support you can get from your event partners for this venue choice. And, there’s a lot more that goes into venue choice from a practical point than you might think.
Event Medical Plan (EMP)
It’s a great asset to any event organiser team, it’s a document and a set of actions that puts a plan in place to provide for medical services, communications, and emergency plans, it becomes part of the Event Management Plan.
It involves a lot of communication between the organiser, the medical provider, and external emergency services, it also has site visits involved. The important part of the EMP is the Medical Needs Risk Assessment (MNRA), that decides the level & type of medical service(s).
Event Paramedic Cover
This is what happens after you have a successful MNRA & EMP in place. It’s a group of professional personnel, and vehicles, who are on site for the event. Equipped, experienced, qualified & briefed, these emergency medical personnel are ready to take care of every medical incident that might happen at the event.
After the Event, The Post Event Report
While the first two are important, the third step is equally as important, and sometimes arguably more important. The Post Event Medical Report sets out everything that happened from a medical perspective at the event, and makes recommendations to the organiser for the next event, some of which are not necessarily medical related. As event partners & professionals, it is important to learn from everything we do and apply it to future events.
What Could Go Wrong If I Don’t Plan for Medical Services?
The law (at least in the UK & Ireland) says that you must. Any event organizer in Ireland or the UK has a legal responsibility to care for those who are attending their event. This could land you in all sorts of stuff if you don’t put the proper medical plan & services in place.
Why Is It Important? Some Examples
I got a call from a client who we had not worked with before at the end of a week, trying to find medical cover for an event for the next day, as their usual provider had backed out with less than 24 hours notice. A huge slap in the face for any organiser. Luckily, I was able to assist as we had additional staff working with us that weekend.
However, if the organiser could not find cover, they would have lost their event licence. Often, medical cover is a condition of the granting of an event licence. In addition, many organising or representative organisations may have a minimum level of required cover, for example equestrian events often require a stretcher carrying vehicle, and some require an emergency medicine trained Doctor.
You Have to Plan for Every Eventuality
Sadly the proof of why medical planning & services is necessary has been brought about by various tragedies that have occurred at events over the years. Some examples include reliance on the 999/112/911 systems for local sports games & community events.
Some examples of events that have gone wrong, and how medical services played their part:
One high profile example of how medical services played a huge role was when Justin Bieber held a free concert in a shopping outlet in East LA in December 2009, resulting in huge crowd surges and crushing. The LA Fire Department and its rescue units had to set up a Triage area, such were the amounts of those requiring medical attention. For those with no medical background, Triage on a large scale is done when the resources available at the scene are overwhelmed by the number of casualties, in this case there were dozens injured and fainted, both by the crowd surges, cold weather, and probably the wait.
Media articles published prior to the event suggest that the organisers had no idea what kind of numbers or crowd to expect, this is potentially a huge safety issue for the attendees, the staff, and the performers. I understand the concert was delayed by 45 minutes due to crowd issues with crowd distribution & safety fears. This is an example of an event that could have ended very horribly for all involved. Luckily, the LAFD, Police, private medical services and security from Staff Pro were on hand to assist. However, it’s arguable that an Event Controller would have stopped the event after it was apparent the crowd problems were causing serious issues. This is why the proper amount of medical & emergency planning is necessary.
A recent high profile example of successfully putting emergency services in place was Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a cardiac arrest while playing football in a Premiership football game. All stadiums that hold sports games, particularly football, are required to have Paramedics on standby for every event.
In this case, Muamba was met within 30 seconds by Ambulance Technicians, Paramedics, an off duty Doctor, Defibrillator, and the medications necessary to treat him immediately. He survived. Without this intervention, it is likely that he would not have survived. Not only would this have been a terrible tragedy, but it would have been a legal nightmare for the clubs, the stadium, the organisers.
I view medical companies as an event partners, rather than suppliers. It’s a simple idea. If the event organiser knows that they have someone who is interested in the event being a success, then they are more likely to be able to form a working relationship with me and my team.
Event Medical Planning & Event Paramedic Cover does not have to be stressful or confusing at all. Involve an experienced provider & you are golden.
This is a guest post by Barry County. Barry is Managing Director of Guardian Paramedic Services, an event medical company based in Dublin, Ireland. Specialising in event medical consultancy & services, Barry has worked on many successful events for national & international clients. Barry is an expert in medical cover & consultancy. You can find out more about Barry on LinkedIn.
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