At events big and small across the country there are providers practicing a different kind of “EMS”… Event Medical Services.
While Event Medical Services is most often considered a branch of Emergency Medical Services, it is important to understand that there is a distinct difference between the two.
The Emergency Medical Service providers often follow a variety of stringent sets of “protocols” in their rendering of care. There are State protocols, City protocols, and the protocols of their individual agencies. Often within the layers of protocols, the ability for patients to be treated and released is stripped away, and providers look to transport most if not all of the patients they get called to regardless of the patient’s desires. Over the years, this type of behaviour has been a contributing factor to the emergency department delays and overcrowding you often read about in health care. The truth is that over time traditional EMS has focused on the Emergency Medical aspect of their name while leaving Service behind.
The Event Medical Service provider, while still having the sets of “protocols” to provide guidance in their rendering of clinical care, also has an additional mandate in their practice. Take into consideration what the patient wants. While it may seem obvious, the idea to place the same (or higher) emphasis on Service as you would the Emergency Medical aspect is still considered progressive. On the surface, the difference may seem simply philosophical, but when implemented it makes a huge impact on guests having a positive event experience despite suffering a malady. By not implementing this philosophical change guests have a double negative experience of their acute medical condition and the care for that condition that failed to take their wishes and needs into consideration.
Event Medical Services Under Other Names
Within the culture of our industry, we often find providers upset whenever someone uses the wrong term as a description for what we do. For that matter, we cannot come to a consensus on what we ourselves actually want to be called.
Over the years, the same thing has happened with Event Medical Services. Here are just some of the terms I have seen used to describe Event Medical Services:
- Mass Gathering EMS
- Special Event EMS
- Special Operations
- Standby EMS
- Venue EMS
- Festival Medical
Regardless of what term you are using, the ideas, philosophy, and best practices remain the same.
Where You Will Find Event Medical Services
The three major factors that are used to determine the need for Event Medical Services are Event Attendance, Event Type, and Event Venue. Too often the need for Event Medical Services is based solely on Event Attendance. While that is a definite indicator, it is NOT the only one that we should be basing our decisions on as to the levels and presence of Event Medical Services.
Where will you find this type of service needed? More places than you may initially think. They can be found at events and venues such as:
- Convention Centers
- Music Halls
- Sporting Events (including motorsports)
- Television & Film Sets
- Corporate Meetings
From that list you can see that the need and opportunity for quality Event Medical Services is there. I stress the word quality because if you take a quick look at the internet, providing Event Medical Services seems to be as popular among the Emergency Medical Services as Social Media Expert is on Twitter. The truth is that while many can make the claim, only a few have the actual experience to deliver.
More importantly, resources on how to deliver the service are scarce. There is the textbook Special Events Medical Services by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeouns (AAOS). While I’m not quite sure why the AAOS is putting out a book that, from my perspective, would have been better coming from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) or National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP). Having an understanding of what the Emergency Medical Services is capable of in order to develop quality Event Medical Services from both operational and clinical viewpoints is important. While I don’t think AAOS has that understanding, they were the ones who published it. While it has some good information, in my opinion it falls short in a number of areas, including making certain assumptions that in practice do not hold true… sort of like strapping someone with a curved spine to a long flat board for a transport to prevent spinal injury. We know (now) how effective that was… which is it wasn’t.
For this reason, I plan on going over a number of these topics over the coming weeks/months/years simply because I want to see it done right. The tentative plan is to have something new on this topic categorized under Event Medical Services every Thursday, so if you want to stay up to date then make sure to subscribe via e-mail: