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Mass gatherings are growing in frequency. Religious, or in this case, “mass” mass gatherings are also growing in complexity, requiring considerable effort from nations hosting a Papal Mass. Ireland hosted a papal mass in 1979 when the prospect of terrorism at such events was significantly lower. Large high-profile events such as a Papal Mass offer a platform via the media and social media to gain widespread coverage of adverse events. In 2018, a predicted 500,000 guests were scheduled to attend a Papal Mass gathering in Phoenix Park, Dublin, a bounded 1,700-hectare park in the center of Dublin.
To develop a medical plan estimating numbers of people requiring medical attention at a Papal Mass held in Ireland late August 2018, and compare same with actual numbers treated post-event. This study aims to reduce the medical impact of such an event on local receiving hospitals through plans that effectively manage medical- and trauma-related presentations on site.
A literature review of medical reports regarding medical care at Papal Mass gatherings worldwide found a range of predicted medical attendance from 21-61 per 10,000 attendees. On that basis we had prepared on-site facilities, facilities on travel routes and access point system for medical care for a crowd of 500,000 were selected.
One of 6 receiving hospitals in Dublin had an increase in average presentations on the day. Attendance was reduced significantly due to weather. 261 patients were treated on site, falling in line with lower rate predicted of 31 patients treated in hospital on site and 17 transports off-site.
A predictable number of patients presented for medical care. On-site medical services reduced transports to hospital. Reduced attendance ensured facilities were sufficient, but could have been under the pressure of the predicted attendance of 500,000.