One of the most challenging aspects of working in the Emergency Medical Services is managing the public’s expectation of the services we provide. The majority of their exposure has been through either television shows (Chicago Fire, Sirens), movies (Bringing Out The Dead), or the mass media that has a habit of highlighting everything we do wrong, but not always what we do right.
The same challenge exists when it comes to providing Event Medical Services. As I mentioned in my introduction post to this series, the Event Medical Service Provider needs to put an emphasis on the Service aspect. The same needs to be applied by the Supervisor/Manager planning the service to be provided.
It is important to meet with the Event Planner/Promoter/Organizer and find out what their expectations actually are. Here are some questions you may want to ask them:
- When do they expect the Event Medical Services to be on-site and fully operational? – event timing is everything. You want to have a clear understanding of what time you are expected to be fully operational and ready to treat patients. Adjust the start time for your personnel accordingly to account for equipment inspection, roll call/briefing/deployment, and equipment load-in if necessary
- What medical care do they expect? – Please not that I specified medical care and NOT what level of medical care they expect. Just as your average patient does not know “good patient care” from “bad patient care“, it is safe to assume that event planners/promoters/organizers do not understand the difference between Basic Life Support and Advanced Life Support. Communicating plainly and avoiding EMS jargon is essential when establishing expectations
- What is the response time they expect for an in-venue response? – There is universal focus placed on the response time metric. It is important to understand what the expectation is of the response time along with having a system for tracking it. It is important to keep in mind that while many communities strive for the ten minutes or less goal, public venues where a medical crisis occurs at an event is under much greater scrutiny. Any medical emergency unfolding in public view has the potential to end up on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. This effectively memorializes the event negatively, especially if the victim appears to be unattended. In all my plans I strive for a two minutes or less response time for the first on scene.
- What notification process do they want for any critical patients? – Notification to event planners/promoters/organizers of any critically ill patients on site is an essential part of the role of Event Medical Services from the planner/promoter/organizer’s point of view for both Risk Management and Public Relations reasons
- What type of documentation do they want? – Documentation always becomes a very sticky subject because of the Privacy Rule attached to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA does make exceptions for the Privacy Rule, including in cases of Worker’s Compensation. As a standard, I offer an Event Medical Services Summary that simply provides tabulation of the numbers of patients seen, treated, and transported. For all other requests, be sure to seek guidance from your legal department
Once you completely understand the expectations, you can move forward and work towards providing reasonable solutions to meet or exceed them based on your capabilities. By explaining the capabilities in terms that the average person can understand, there is a less likelihood of there being a miscommunication.