So, about the
Capital Hunger Games 2017 Fyre Festival that imploded across the internet this weekend…I don’t want to rehash everything that has already been written, but I do want to make a few important points related to Event Medical Services.
Risk Assessments Are Vital
Any time you are planning a festival or a large scale gathering, it is vital to do a proper Risk Assessment that includes assessing the organizers/producers. According to the Risk Assessment chart I use here, Fyre Festival’s organizers/producers alone would have ranked a 4 – High Risk. This gives you an idea of how deep into the muck you may end up getting yourself.
How deep is that muck? So deep that you may need to be self-sustaining for the duration, which will include ensuring that basics—food, water, boarding, bathroom facilities, and electricity—are available. Running a large scale gathering can be, for all intents and purposes, much like operating in a disaster zone. While not every festival will approach the level of epic fail level that was Fyre, the unexpected can and does happen, making planning and preparations vital.
Reports that the organizers/producers themselves were personally responsible for buying an ambulance in New Jersey and shipping it to the Bahamian island of Exuma are also very troubling. While I don’t know the precise type of ambulance they purchased, I don’t think a recording artist and a tech entrepreneur are necessarily the best qualified people to make emergency operational decisions, despite paying the bill. For the type of setting described, in addition to an ambulance, I would also probably have two or three all-terrain vehicles capable of moving supine patients.
I found it interesting that Local Ambulance in the below screenshot of an Exuma tourist information website is followed by (Glen), who is probably the ambulance driver.
With a back-up EMS system of one local ambulance, I would argue the risk level is a 5 – VERY HIGH for the event. One ambulance isn’t enough.
Be Where You Are Supposed To Be
I questioned whether or not Fyre’s organizers were in contact with anyone about providing actual event medical services at the festival. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they hadn’t been, and then I saw this tweet:
The entire medical team is gone. THE MEDICAL TEAM. MISSING. pic.twitter.com/2vy23SF626
— dylan (@DylanACOP) April 28, 2017
The above photo has been making the rounds, with Bloomberg including it in their coverage of the festival. I found the context of the tweet to be much more alarming, especially given reports on social media of a medical emergency at the airport during the evacuation.
The signage indicates that the First Aid Station was being staffed by National Event Services. Considering all the reports regarding the slow to nonexistent payment to artists, I honestly question if they were even there to begin with, although I’m not quite sure how a sign got put up with their branding if they weren’t. That would indicate SOME level of organization on the part of Fyre Festival which, honestly, seems pretty unlikely…so maybe they really are missing.
From a vendor standpoint, if you commit to an event such as this then you need to be there, regardless of the contractual issues you may have with the organizer/promoter. Proper planning will help you mitigate any issues that arise and will allow you to meet your obligations to the attendees. Leaving before all the attendees have been evacuated is not only unprofessional, it’s unethical and you may find yourself wrapped up into a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit.
All Agency-Meetings Are A Necessity
Prior to every well-run large event, numerous “all-agency” meetings take place. Vendors and contractors gather to discuss their part in the overall event plans. For a festival of this size, meetings typically take place no less than six months out. It appears they didn’t.
All-agency meetings are important to coordinate an understanding of what is going on at the event, who is handling what, to ask questions that need answering (housing, food, traffic control, etc.), and to raise any concerns that develop throughout the course of planning. Generally, it’s through a process of cooperation and team work that festivals and large events actually come together. This kind of cross-departmental communication will also give you an idea of the level of preparedness you need to have based on that presented by other service providers.
The Fyre Festival organizers noted their lack of experience in organizing the event on their website with a letter they posted apologizing for what had happened. They even promised this little tidbit for next year:
After speaking with our potential partners, we have decided to add more seasoned event experts to the 2018 Fyre Festival, which will take place at a United States beach venue.
While it’s nice to hear that is what they plan to do, if the past weekend is any indication of their planning skills, then I have serious reservations about what the future may hold.