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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015 Jun;30(3):271-8. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X15004598. Epub 2015 Apr 14.

Mass-gathering Medicine: Risks and Patient Presentations at a 2-Day Electronic Dance Music Event.

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Department of Emergency Medicine,University of British Columbia,Vancouver,British Columbia,Canada.



Music festivals, including electronic dance music events (EDMEs), increasingly are common in Canada and internationally. Part of a US $4.5 billion industry annually, the target audience is youth and young adults aged 15-25 years. Little is known about the impact of these events on local emergency departments (EDs).


Drawing on prospective data over a 2-day EDME, the authors of this study employed mixed methods to describe the case mix and prospectively compared patient presentation rate (PPR) and ambulance transfer rate (ATR) between a first aid (FA) only and a higher level of care (HLC) model.


There were 20,301 ticketed attendees. Seventy patient encounters were recorded over two days. The average age was 19.1 years. Roughly 69% were female (n=48/70). Forty-six percent of those seen in the main medical area were under the age of 19 years (n=32/70). The average length of stay in the main medical area was 70.8 minutes. The overall PPR was 4.09 per 1,000 attendees. The ATR with FA only would have been 1.98; ATR with HLC model was 0.52. The presence of an on-site HLC team had a significant positive effect on avoiding ambulance transfers.


Twenty-nine ambulance transfers and ED visits were avoided by the presence of an on-site HLC medical team. Reduction of impact to the public health care system was substantial.


Electronic dance music events have predictable risks and patient presentations, and appropriate on-site health care resources may reduce significantly the impact on the prehospital and emergency health resources in the host community.


ATR ambulance transfer rate; ED emergency department; EDME electronic dance music event; FA first aid; FAA first aid attendant; HLC higher level of care; PEF patient encounter form; PPR patient presentation rate; UBC University of British Columbia; electronic dance music event; hazard; mass gathering; music festival; risk

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