General Planning:

1.) When planning my Event what safety concerns should I have?

  • Risks to health and safety associated with events include:
    Uneven surfaces, slippery, or have potholes, and which may cause participants or spectators to trip, slip and fall.
  • Age, size and ability of participants
  • Projectiles that are used during an event including balls, pucks, sticks.
  • Obstructions that people may run into or trip on.
  • Food hygiene.
  • Lack of appropriate security.
  • Competitive aggression resulting in brawls, abuse, harassment.

Accidents resulting in injury are frequent at events, and event organising committees and staff can significantly reduce their liability provided that a reasonable attempt to identify risks has been made, and strategies have been put in place to mitigate these risks.

In short, the event organizing committee needs to be seen to have done a reasonable job in risk management.

2.) What are the most common emergencies?

Most of the injuries that happen are minor. We have done many events where only a small Band-Aid is required and some events where no first aid care is required.

It really depends on the nature/type of event and the environment in which it takes place.
Sporting events tend to have more injuries than community or corporate events.

Medical emergencies can & do happen at all types of events, these are the emergencies that you need to plan for.

We have had:

  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Breathing emergencies
  • Heat type emergencies happen

For sporting events the primary issue is bone and joint injuries along with Head/Spinal.

3.) Why have dedicated EMS/First Aid for your Event?

Anyone who is in a crowd watching an event or participating is expecting a reasonably safe operation and by the event organizer. There must be some way that the injured or sick spectator/participant can rapidly receive first aid and transport to a hospital.

Local municipal Emergency Services can and often have delayed response times in excess of 15 minutes, if a serious medical emergency happens, this delay could end in tragedy.

Event management should have a plan that gets emergency care to the casualty in under 4 minutes and have an evacuation plan to get the casualty to definitive care, thus the reason to have a quick onsite medical response team in place.

4.) Event Liability & Risk Management?

Why do we have to manage our risk?
The basic principles of Risk Management are:

  1. Identify Risks
  2. Assess Significance of Risks
  3. Eliminate or Minimize the Risk
  4. Provide Insurance & Implement Controls

All organisations should engage in a continual process of examination and review of their existing events to ensure that the environment is safe for participants, officials, volunteers and spectators.

This process of examination becomes even more important in the planning process for new events.
A failure to assess the risks involved in events can be disastrous as a result of:

  • Loss of reputation
  • Financial loss
  • Damage to facilities
  • Injury to participants & spectators
  • Over-stressed workers
  • Loss of equipment
  • Over-resourcing of one objective leading to under-resourcing of other objectives

On-site safety at the event is paramount – your public and participants expects to be able to enjoy your event in safe and secure surrounds – and your committee members need to identify potential hazards during the planning of, and on site at, your event and work to implement solutions.

5.) How many responders do I need?

This depends on the type of event, number of attendees, risk and types of potential injuries and the size of area that needs coverage.

Many event organizers leave this decision to the last minute and often don’t budget adequately.
I know many events run with just one responder and often with insufficient supplies and equipment.
A single responder can usually handle minor injuries and non-life threatening illnesses. It is our 30+ years at hundreds of events that we recommend that there be at least two responders at an event.

Our rational for this is simple; we do not ever want to be understaffed on medical coverage. If a serious injury happens you will need at least two responders to handle it. That is why professionals always work in team of two or more.

On any event lasting 3 or more hours a single responder will need a break; this leaves you the organizer without proper coverage. Another example for having two or more responders is that often accidents happen at the same time and may involve more than one person; a single responder can’t be in more than one place.

Another scenario we have experienced on many occasions, a casualty is brought into the First Aid post and another call comes into the post for an incident somewhere at the event, now you have a problem adequately handling two emergencies. Now if you hire a responder contractor and they cannot handle the situation, and a legal action takes place, there could be potential for a civil liability loss.

Our best advice is to ensure you have sufficient responders and equipment to meet any type of potential incident. We recommend that the response team be split between Emergency medical and Sports medical staff. As each bring skills unique to their training.

6.) Do I require an ambulance?

Most events do not require the use of a dedicated ambulance.
In Ontario all Ambulances are operated by a municipality and only they are legally allowed to transport a patient to a medical facility and are staffed by two Paramedics.

Private operators are not allowed to operate a vehicle as an ambulance, they would be required to call 911 for a municipal EMS unit should a person require immediate medical transport.

Private operators who own vehicles resembling Ambulances do so for two reasons:

  1. As special classification under the Ministry of Transportation regulations, as a Stretcher Transport Service.
  2. As a mobile First Aid Post.

Having an “Ambulance Type Vehicle” for your event will dramatically increase your costs and not provide a reasonable value for your event.
For some events (Motor Sport) it would be advisable to contract with a Professional EMS service to provide Ambulance service. Most EMS services will provide one of two levels of service:

  1. An Ambulance onsite and dedicated to your event.
  2. Partial coverage by have a vehicle on a standby at your event, but may have to be used if a call requires its service.

In either case you might be left without and coverage should the paramedic crew need to transport a patient, the service may try to get another unit to attend if available.

7.) What facilities do I require for First Aid?

Two items are of importance when planning a First Aid Station.

  1. The Weather conditions.
    a}The First Aid/Medical post should provide adequate shelter and privacy for the environment.
  2. The area size for the event
    a)Location of the First Aid post should allow quick access to all areas of the event, be highly visible and easy access to a roadway for an ambulance.
    b) If the First Aid post cannot be located in a central area, think about having more than one station.

There should be a reserved parking for an emergency vehicle or ambulance near or at least easily accessible to the First Aid Station.

Depending on the type and size of your event additional resources may be required.

8.) What types of services are available?

There are a wide variety of event first aid/medical services available.

They range from volunteered based providers (St. John Ambulance, Scouting MedVentures, and community based volunteer organizations), Professional Event Medical response teams, Athletic/Physiotherapists to Professional Municipal Paramedic Services.

We would strongly advise against using a certified basic first aid provider, current basic first aid programs do not provide adequate training skills to participants.

9.) What level training and medical care is provided?

There are several levels of care and training experience available for event medical services.

  1. Basic First Aid, CPR and AED certification, about 13-20 hours of training, no skill testing required.
    a. Delivery of basic first aid and CPR and use of an AED only.
  2. Emergency First Responders (EFR) additional 35-40 of training and has gone through some degree of practical skills testing. (St. John now uses the designation of Advanced Medical First Responder (AMFR for this level)) not to be confused with the EMR below.
    a. Delivery of Basic First Aid, CPR and AEDs
    b. Can use Oxygen and Airway Management devices
    c. Assist with the application of special extrication equipment.
    d. Trained at the Healthcare Provider CPR level.
  3. Emergency Medical Responders (EMR), between 60-90 hours of advanced first aid. Can assist a Paramedic with some skills.
  4. Athletic (AT(C)) and Physiotherapists (P/T), Medical specialists trained to access and care for Sports medical injuries, 3-5 years university and provincial or national certifications, AT(C) are also mandated to be certified in (EFR) or higher.
  5. Primary Care Paramedic (PCP Level 1), College graduate of a recognized paramedic program and completed government certification. Provides primary Basic Life Support (BLS) modalities and along with several Advance Life Support (ALS) skills.
  6. Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP), Additional skills and can provide a range of advanced medical procedures as authorised by a medical director.

First Aid is delivered at all levels above. The Paramedic Levels can deliver for BLS and ALS providing they are working under the affiliation of a Medical doctor. Without a Medical director, PCP’s and ACP’s can only render Basic Life Support skills (First Aid) not Medical Aid (ALS).

10.) Seasonal Concerns


  • Shelter/shade facilities
  • Heat emergencies (keep participants hydrated)
  • Weather
  • Sunburn
  • Insects
  • Allergies


  • Cooler temperatures
  • Rain
  • Early snow fall


  • Cold emergencies (Frost bite/Hypothermia)
  • Road conditions
  • Slips and falls are common
  • Proper clothing


Types of Events and their EMS requirements.

  1. Competitive Sports
    a. Team Sports
    b. Non-team sports
    c. Motor sports
    d. Water Sports
  2. Tournaments
    a. One day events
    b. Multi Venues
    c. Multi rinks
    d. Multi-day events
  3. Fund Raising sports
  4. Community Charity Runs/Walks
  5. Community or Ethnic Events
  6. Street closing events
  7. Entertainment
    a. Short concerts
    b. Multi-day concerts
    c. Multi-cultural
  8. Shoreline events
  9. Food Festivals
  10. Corporate Events
    a. Parties
    b. Picnics
    c. Banquets
    d. Awards
    e. Conferences