Planning First Aid Cover For Your Event

One of the most important questions I have to answer when I’m on site is “How many paramedics/ambulances etc. do we need?”

Then I answer with the typical „it depends…“ Depends on what?

Firs,t we have to separate the build and derig phases from the actual live event phase. Every phase has it’s own medical requirements. Let’s look at the build and derig phase first, then we’ll look at the live phase.

Build And Derig Phases

During these phases, your site is more a construction zone than a live event site. The exact amount should be determined by a risk assessment that takes into consideration what type of work is being done and how many people are on site at any given time. For instance if you have structures being built then you’ll need more and better qualified first aiders.

Depending on the country you’re in there are different rules to follow but here’s a good estimate:

Number of staff present on sitePart-time first-aider (can do other jobs at the same time)Full-time first-aider
up to 5010

You are required to have trained first aid personnel on site. A first aid trained staff member must have at least a basic first aid training that isn’t older than one year. After one year the training must be refreshed. The first aider must have a certificate that proves they are properly trained. Let them show it to you so you are sure.

Money saving tip

Suppliers and contractors working on your site should provide their own first aid trained personnel and first aid kit. You should stipulate this in writing before the contract is signed and then verify that the person and kit is actually on site. When every supplier/contractor has their own trained personnel and kit, you can reduce the amount of personnel and kit coming out of your budget. Just make sure that they actually are on site.

I’ve already talked about what you need to know about first aid kit here.

Live Event Phase

Now, let’s look at the live event phase. This is a completely different kettle of fish. Here again you should determine by risk assessment if you have any hazards on site that require more or better trained first aid personnel.

As an example, I once did an extreme sporting event where participants had to do really hazardous stuff like climbing high walls and throwing heavy objects around. Possible injuries included spinal injuries, heart attacks and other major injuries. This type of event warrants highly trained paramedics, ambulances (yes more than on) on site etc. We even had a helicopter landing pad and a fully equipped hospital on site.

In general the higher the risk, the more qualified personnel and better equipment you’ll need. Risk generally rises with the amount of people present and their demographics (elderly, children, disabled), the types of activities you have, sale of alcohol, any special risks such as terror incidents and the length of your event.

There are some general tables used to determine the amount and kind of personnel you’ll need but it always remains an individual risk assessment. Here’s a table that’s based on UK’s Purple Guide. It can help you decide on what you need.

You see that it all comes down to you thinking about what can potentially happen at your event and doing a written risk assessment to determine what you need. Not doing this risk assessment puts you in a very vulnerable position, should an accident happen. The judge and jury will definitely base their judgement on what you did to prevent that accident from happening and if you can give them written proof, then they’ll definitely be on your side.