Private medical responders care for Snowbombers

Chris Mark, Brenden Wanner, Sam Riggs, Sean Robinson and Shaun Pettit, members of Sun Peak Patrol and the Sun Peaks Mountain Rescue Society, provide medical services at the Forest Stage. Photo SPIN.

Large events, like Coors Light Snowbombing Canada, can take a toll on the host community. Extra people and sound from stages late at night can be accepted for a few days. But when it comes to potentially life threatening situations, it’s important the event doesn’t have a negative impact on residents.

That’s where Odyssey Medical comes in. Having provided medical coverage for events of all sizes across Canada and the United States they were well prepared to work at Snowbombing Canada in early April.

Medical Director Adam Lund, who is also an emergency room doctor in the Vancouver area, said their Snowbombing team consisted of around 25 members who mostly worked from 7 p.m. to the early morning hours.

“Snowbombing was a really cool event. It’s unique being embedded in the community…It went very much as we wanted.”

Lund added patient numbers were “on the lighter side” and were often different injuries than are common at summer festivals or events. He said with the active nature of Snowbombing they saw more musculoskeletal injuries and less dehydration, sunburn or foot injuries than a summer event.

With Fentanyl increasingly appearing in recreational drugs in recent years, Lund said they had a plan in place in case of an opiod overdose however it wasn’t utilized. According to Lund the opioid crisis hasn’t been a major issue in the festival scene.

While the team responded to other calls related to alcohol consumption or drug use they are unable to test or confirm specific substances.

Overall Lund said festivals are a fun way to train and get experience.

“It’s a lot of fun to be a part of…It’s very welcoming, you get lots of thanks, lots of high-fives and fist bumps. It’s overwhelmingly positive.

Lund said their services are important for event attendees and to ensure the rest of the community is cared for.

“We have a moral obligation to not degrade community service,” Lund said. “If they (residents) call 911 they should be able to get the same level of service they can every other day of the year.”

Festival goers taking in Odesza’s set. Photo SPIN.

For Odyssey workers and volunteers, a broad mix of responders including ER physicians and nurses, nurse practitioners, emergency medical responders, primary care paramedics, and many Sun Peaks Mountain Rescue Society members, balancing means providing care to keep patients out of local hospitals and ambulances with knowing when to transfer care.

“We want to prevent unnecessary transfers and facilitate necessary transfers,” said Lund. “911 is not the event’s emergency response plan.”

A lot goes into reaching that goal, starting with a planning process that can begin as early as a few years prior to an event, but in most cases begins one year to three months pre-event.

Lund and his team must analyse readily available resources in a community and understand how they will complement and add to them.

“It’s like solving a puzzle. What are the existing resources?” he said. “What additional resources do we need so we don’t over tax your medical system and so we don’t over tax ambulances? It’s fantastic at Sun Peaks, with the gorgeous Health Centre.”

Lund commended the ski patrol team for their organization and warm welcome and thanked members of the family practice for being available in the evenings if needed.

“A real shout out to the Ski Patrol team…and the production company should be commended for being willing to invest in more than a simple first aid team.”