07 May, 2019

The impact on local emergency departments during a “Schoolies Week” youth mass gathering


Community-based strategies designed to minimize the impact on local emergency services during mass gathering events (MGEs) require evaluation to provide evidence to inform best practice.

This study aimed to describe characteristics and outcomes for people aged 16-18 years requiring emergency care before, during, and after a planned youth MGE “Schoolies week” on the Gold Coast, Australia.

A retrospective observational study was undertaken. Presentations from all young adults to the emergency department (ED) or In-Event Health Service (IEHS) over a 21-day period in 2014 were included. Descriptive and inferential analyses were performed to compare across time and to describe characteristics of and outcomes for young adults requiring healthcare.

A total of 1029 presentations were made by youth aged 16 – 18 to the ED and IEHS over the study period (ED: 139 pre, 275 during, and 195 post; IEHS: 420 during). Patient characteristics and outcomes to the ED that varied significantly between pre, during, and post Schoolies periods included patient’s age (higher proportion of 17-year-olds), residing outside the Gold Coast region, and not waiting for treatment. All were higher during Schoolies week. Of the 24,375 MGE attendees, 420 (1.72% [95% CI, 1.57 – 1.89], 17.2/1,000) presented to the IEHS. The majority were toxicology related (n=169, 44.9%). Transportation to hospital rate was low (0.03% [95% CI, 0.01 – 0.06], 0.3/1,000) for the 24,375 MGE attendees.

Findings from this study support previous research indicating that MGEs can impact local emergency healthcare services. The provision of the IEHS may have limited this impact. The recipients of care delivery, predominantly males with trauma- or toxicology-related problems, warrants further investigation. Research describing the structures and processes of the IEHC could further inform health care delivery in and out of hospital settings.

Crilly, J., Ranse, J., Bost, N., Donnelly, T., Timms, J., Gilmour, K., Aitken, M., Johnston, A. (2019). The impact on local emergency departments during a “Schoolies Week” youth mass gathering. Paper presented at the 22nd World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine, Brisbane, 10th May.


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