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A Cost Analysis of Emergency Medical Services for Events

A breakdown of some of the most common costs associated with EMS for events and how to estimate them.

Planning an event - no matter its size - requires incredible attention to detail. Successful event planning requires looking at every aspect of the event from multiple angles. This includes potential risks. While there is no way to completely eliminate risk, having a plan for emergency medical service availability helps mitigate it, and ensures your guests are well cared for and your business is protected.  

Here’s what you need to know about emergency medical service planning for a major event, and the options that are available for providing them.

What to Consider: Emergency Medical Service Plans

Before you decide what kind of emergency medical services you’ll be providing at your event or venue, you’ll want to consider the many factors that may be at play during the gathering. 

Considering the event

The first step in this process is to consider the kind of event you’ll be hosting and what kind of risks are typically associated with it. This should happen fairly early on in the planning process. Consider these questions to help you prepare your approach:

  • Is it a single event or a series of events?
  • What physical activities will be happening at this event or venue?
  • How many people are going to be there, including staff? Will this number ever vary?
  • What will be the duration of the event or series of events?
  • Where is the event being held? Is it all in one location or spread out across multiple venues?
  • Will it be held indoors or outdoors? What kind of weather will you be dealing with?
  • What food or drinks will be available? How and where will they be prepared and distributed?
  • Is there going to be alcohol at this event? How will it be controlled?

Answering these questions will help you discover where your medical weak points are, and what kind of services you might need. For instance, an outdoor event or venue in hot weather would require preparedness for overheating emergencies. An event or venue typically attended by an older demographic might require more preparedness for physical injuries or cardiac events. Make sure that you keep a list of specific conditions and considerations you might need to make.

Setting an EMS budget

Once you’ve narrowed down the kind of EMS you need at your event or venue, it’s time to set a budget. You can estimate the costs of EMS by reaching out to other vendors, researching past events and similar venues, or - and this is the most accurate method - speaking directly with representatives from EMS providers like Joffe. 

It’s a good idea to pad out your budget as well, in the unfortunate and unlikely event of a disaster. Some professionals suggest padding out your individual event budgets by15% of your net necessary costs. This will cover additional EMS, along with unexpected cancellations or changes in vendors. 

Don’t be afraid to dedicate a fair portion of your budget to EMS and safety precautions. It’s far better to be over-prepared than underprepared.

Emergency liability insurance for events

Emergency liability insurance, also called event liability insurance, is a protection policy required by many venues, which covers them in the event that a person is injured as a result of the event and protects their property from any damage incurred. This insurance allows the venue to lower the chance of legal issues due to unforeseen circumstances.

Event liability insurance often covers a few things:

  • Liability. As the name implies, a common coverage point is liability, or the protection from claims and suits based on a person being injured or a piece of property being damaged. 
  • Cancellation. In the event that your event is canceled or postponed for any reason, this coverage point allows you to be reimbursed for deposits and certain fees.
  • Inclement Weather. Some event insurance policies include coverage for inclement weather conditions which may either impede or cause the cancellation of the event.

The cost of insurance varies depending on a few factors, including the size of the venue, the number of attendees, and the kind of event being held. For instance, you might be able to insure a small event with less than 50 guests for around $100. If, however, you’re planning to upscale the event or operate a larger venue, your costs are going to go up.

Events with more physical activity, such as athletic events or competitions, they tend to have a higher insurance cost due to the higher chance of risk. This is an especially important cost to consider for stadiums and arenas.

Hiring Out Versus Internal EMS Teams

When deciding on the kind of EMS needed at a particular event, you’ll want to weigh the costs and benefits of hiring an internal versus an external team.

You’ll also want to ensure that the EMS you choose is appropriate to your venue. If you are coordinating an event in a convention center, for instance, consider working with the venue to choose and contract with an external EMS that the venue approves, whether this is from a predetermined list or vetted as you suggest. Remote promoters, such as those who work on marathons and concerts, will want to ensure that there is on-site EMS which may mean sourcing for a provider, as response times from local EMS systems will be longer. Ultimately, you want to ensure that your facility is equipped to handle any situation - including a range of emergencies.

How to prepare an internal EMS team

If you decide to establish an internal EMS team, you should start with a detailed plan for how many team members you’ll need, what their individual responsibilities will be, and when they should call for external backup. Identify members of your existing event or venue team who have previous experience with EMS - these are the people you’ll want to appoint as team leaders. Meet with them to discuss the plan and preparations that need to be made, including supplies that need to be purchased.

Some supplies you will need for a small event are included in the table below, as well as their costs.

Item

Cost

An adequately provisioned first aid kit (including treatment options for minor cuts, scrapes, and bruising, as well as for larger injuries such as breaks and bleeds).

$50-$200 depending on the level of treatments available

An AED.

$1,200-$2,500

EMT-B training for all EMS team members (including first aid, basic life support, and use of equipment such as AEDs).

Course fees vary, depending on training organization and span a wide range, from well under $1,000, to up to $5,000. Options are available via public schools as well as private training companies. 3 months is a typical training duration, with accelerated programs also available.

An EMS station (either a table, tent, or vehicle sectioned off for storage and treatment).

Variable; Dependent on the size of the station.

 

When to hire an external EMS team

Though internal EMS teams can be helpful, there are some factors for which you may need a larger or more experienced team. 

Large events, such as conferences, conventions, galas, and events held in stadiums, will often require an external EMS team. This is simply a risk-weight issue; the more people there are at an event and the larger a space they occupy, the higher the risk is that there will be a serious emergency. For these events, you may want multiple aid stations, dedicated support vehicles such as ambulances, and professionals trained in more advanced supportive treatments.

Additionally, bringing on a more comprehensive EMS team can reduce your liability risk in terms of insurance. Simply having these teams on site can provide evidence in the case of a claim that you and your organization took adequate precautions against injury.

Conclusion

Joffe understands that your events and venues value the health and safety of your patrons. Because of this, we’re happy to offer professional, reliable, and adaptable services to stadiums, arenas, field events, and convention centers, among others. Our licensed and certified EMTs are carefully screened and receive ongoing training so that we can ensure that they are as competent and effective in their work as possible. 

If you’re ready to bring seamlessly coordinated and dedicated emergency medical services to your event, you can contact Joffe Emergency Services today.

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