Is there a doctor in the room? First Aid at events

Medical and first aid facilities at your event are incredibly important. What do you need to have on site? How many doctors and nurses should you have? How many treatment rooms do you need to have and what should be in them? It is quite a conundrum for first time event planners.

This year, on day one of V-festival, 250 people were treated for injuries and 11 of them were transported to a nearby hospital. In 2015 just over a 1,000 patients were treated for all kinds of injuries at V-festival. St. Johns Ambulance Service provides the medical services at this festival. They had over 200 staff and volunteers working throughout the weekend.

Glastonbury festival works with Festival Medical Services. According to the Guardian this charity organisation “will have 850 volunteers including doctors, nurses, podiatrists, ultrasound technicians, paramedics and dentists” on site. If you are an event planner this might sound daunting. Logistics, planning, and costs are probably the first things you think of.

Minimising the risks at your event

Does your event need 850 medical volunteers? Probably not unless your event is of similar proportions as Glastonbury festival. Each event is different and therefore requires a unique medical plan. When minimising the medical and/or health risks at your event you need to keep the following in mind:

Your audience. You need to know who is actually attending your event. An event aimed at senior citizens requires different medical facilities than an event aimed at 20-year-olds. Look at the demographics of your visitors and their behaviour. For example, your audience might be known to drink alcohol or consume drugs.

Your event. Whether your event is a soapbox race, an EDM event, a community fete or a classical concert, your event requires medical facilities. Some events, by the very nature of what they are, are more “high risk” than others. Research your event ideas and the associated potential impact on your first aid facilities.

Location. The location of your event can have an influence on the medical facilities you have on site. I’ve worked at a festival where the decision was made not to have an ambulance on site, as the hospital was only a few miles down the road. Always speak to your local authorities and your medical service provider and ask for their advice.

Duration. The duration of your event has an influence of the medical team you need to have on site. It can also have an influence on the type and number of injuries at your event.

Weather. Sunstrokes, hyperthermia, mood-swings because of the rain, not enough drink water… Weather circumstances have an impact on your medical facilities. Check the weather forecast but more importantly, be prepared for the unexpected.

Artists. Some artists stimulate certain crowd behaviour. Think of moshing and crowd surfing. Here an example of what an artist can do to the crowd. What potential medical risks do your artists bring to your event?

Fairytale forest at Fuji Rock: pretty cool

Fairytale forest at Fuji Rock: pretty cool

Activities. Fairground rides, games, that fairytale forest you have on site. Some of these activities might cause harm to your visitors. Just look into the potential risks and be prepared.

Alcohol and drug misuse. Know how to deal with this! I’ve written a blog post about this a few weeks ago. You can read my previous blog.

Capacity. Know what your event capacity is! Too many people and certain areas might become overcrowded. There are many risks associated with overcrowding. From crushing, to fights, to panic attacks, just to name a few. Your capacity has an influence on the number of entrances and exits at your event. No one likes to queue for hours, especially in the rain or in the baking sun.

Professional help

This list is not exhaustive. My advice is to speak to your local authorities and a professional medical provider that has experience in working at similar events to the one you want to organise. They can help you organise a safe event for everyone to enjoy.

There are some guides out there though. In the UK we have The Event Safety Guide. A similar guide is also available in America. Keep in mind that these are guides! Each event is different and has a unique set of criteria that should be discussed with experts in the field and your local authorities.

For more information about first aid and medical facilities at your event you can check out my online workshop Event Safety. You can also follow me on Twitter and on Facebook