On Thursday of last week National Event Services (NES) filed a lawsuit against the organizers of Fyre Festival for breach of contract, fraud, and negligence according to an article on Pitchfork. The lawsuit is the first known suit from a vendor.
The Timeline of Doom
The lawsuit provides an interesting timeline of events for the doomed festival. The following text is directly from the lawsuit with my own added emphasis and annotations for the specific items I will be commenting on:
24. When NES arrived on the Island, on or around April 26, 2017, it immediately discovered that the accommodations were uninhabitable, including bug infestation, blood-stained mattresses and no air conditioning. 
25. When NES conducted a site visit upon arrival, it determined that Defendants had failed to provide any of the facilities necessary for NES to provide medical services during the 2017 Festival.
26. Defendants’ failure to perform the most basic and essential of their contractual obligations and/or representations rendered NES‘s further performance under the Agreement impossible.
27. NES also repeatedly requested confirmation that the 2017 Festival staff was properly permitted to perform medical services on site, and Plaintiff was never provided with any such documentation in violation of their obligations under Exhibit B (subsection (B)) of the Agreement 
28. Despite Defendants’ repudiation of their obligations under the Agreement, NES returned to the festival site and determined it would be necessary to open the main medical tent overnight in response to obvious safety and health concerns for the people trapped on the Island, which left NES exposed to serving distressed patrons for an unprepared festival site.
29. At 12:25 a.m. on April 28, 2017, NES discovered that not only had Defendants failed to secure a contract with a medical evacuation helicopter or plane, but that the medical clinic on the Island was also closed. 
30. As a result, NES has nowhere to send any patient who may have required emergency care overnight.
31. At 8:00am on April 28, 2017, NES was informed that Defendants had cancelled the 2017 Festival.
The full text of the lawsuit is available here:
“Amateur Hour” Illustrated
 Accommodations were uninhabitable as early as April 26, 2017 – this is an indicator the Fyre Festival organizer’s defense “wind from rough weather” negatively impacted the accommodations on April 27, 2017. While the lack of accommodations and organization is well documented, it is troubling that there is no indication NES raised the red flag when they arrived on April 26. Perhaps had they been more vocal, a lot of this mess may have been avoided.
 The Organizer was responsible for medical service permitting – In my opinion, the Promoter/Organizer is not the medical service expert, the Event Medical Service provider is. Medical service permitting should be the responsibility of the Event Medical Service provider and should be rolled into the service, along with record-keeping and reporting. While local regulations may require the Promoter/Organizer to be the person applying for the permit, the medical service provider should take an active role in that process.
 It took NES just over a day to realize the island medical clinic was closed – to me this is absolutely abhorrent. What type of planning did NES actually do? Were they not in contact with the island medical clinic before the show or even upon arrival? There really is no excuse for this acute lack of communication and planning on their part. Furthermore I find it incredible it was the Organizer tasked with contracting an air ambulance. Once again, the Promoter/Organizer is not the medical services expert, and I believe this should have been rolled into the service of planning the medical service for the festival.
An interesting turn of events is that NES has recently taken down their website as recently as last Thursday, the same day the lawsuit was filed and my previous post on Fyre Festival went live, to supposedly upgrade the site. The NES festival management services site, Festivals101.com remains active as of this writing (Sunday morning May 7, 2017). While it may be just a coincidence, the timing certainly is odd for NES CEO Carl Monzo to upgrade the website.
Lessons Learned From Fyre Festival
I have to reiterate that there are important lessons to be learned from the Fyre Festival debacle. In addition to the lessons I’ve already posted, especially about doing a proper risk assessment, I would add the following:
Plan for the worst
The disaster response mantra of “plan for the worst, hope for the best” has to apply for any event where medical services are being planned for. In a case like this, a festival on foreign shores with limited resources, there is a lot of planning that should go into that. Being prepared for an overnight event like this means also being prepared for self-sustainability.
Visit the site
According to the lawsuit there was one site visit prior to the actual event in February. This would be the sort of event where I would have probably looked to have had at least 3 site visits and put a logistics team onsite no later than April 23rd. This allows enough time to assess the site, recognize deficiencies, and make adjustments to the plan. In this case it may have been enough to raise enough red flags regarding the situation and have avoided the entire mess of putting people in harms way.
Provide an actual service
If you are being hired as the Event Medical Service provider, you are essentially being hired as the medical authority for the venue. Essentially, you are establishing and operating a limited traditional emergency medical service with a population that is easier to profile based on the genre of music. This means not only providing the actual service on-site but in communicating with hospital destinations for off site transports, local EMS, law enforcement, and if necessary arranging air ambulance accommodations. Permitting is another area where you should be intimately involved in. Placing the onus on the non-medical professional Promoter/Organizer opens you up for legal liabilities if they fail to secure the correct permits and associations. This is actually a good way to differentiate yourself from your competitors, making your service an asset while also mitigating a potential source of liability.
For any festival, sporting event, or other activity requiring Event Medical Services the keys to success are the same, proper planning (including a risk assessment) and proper preparation (including for the worst. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
While the Fyre Festival organizers are optimistic about having a 2018 Fyre Festival, considering all the lawsuits that have been filed, I remain highly doubtful we will ever see such an event… and that’s honestly probably a good thing.