Are you covered?

For a number of years, Dr Samuel Gutman, Rockdoc Consulting Inc. and Ron Ford, BC Ambulance Special Operations, have mused on the inconsistencies and inadequacies of medical coverage of events organized by various sport organizations, promoters and producers throughout BC.

These inconsistencies are in part due to a lack of appreciation of the problem and also a lack of regulation at the provincial level. Fire and Police services are regulated by the local government, whereas Ambulance services are held under Provincial legislation. Permits for special events are handled locally so there is a disconnect on the emergency health side.

Dr Gutman and his team of consultants, including Dr. Adam Lund, another Emergency Physician have put together a 2 page white paper on this topic , and presented it to the Union of BC Municipalities. The UBCM have agreed to hear more about this issue, and to consider the group’s recommendations.

Those recommendations are still being refined, as the group examines the requirements needed to standardize and improve the medical coverage of events throughout the province, without restricting these events or raising the cost to inaccessible levels.

“Determining these needs is an art, not yet a science” Dr Gutman says, “what are the minimum requirements? What do you really need? What events require more than simple first aid coverage?” He adds that there are several factors involved in determining the answers to these questions – including the number and needs of the participants, as well as the affect of the event on the local services in the area – i.e. how the public’s access to medical services will be impacted by the event.

Dr Gutman has been involved in event medical coverage in BC for a number of years and frequently assists SportMedBC with the events that they provide coordination for. His observations from events such as the Pemberton Festival, the Vancouver Marathon and ITU World Triathlon Championships are providing the research on patient presentation rates and the types of injuries at these events that will form the basis for the Mass Gathering Medicine Patient Registry being developed at UBC.

Dr Gutman hopes that the UBCM will continue to consider his group’s suggestions, and help in the process of developing provincial regulations on event medical coverage.

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