Introduction: In the summer of 2009, British Columbia hosted the World Police and Fire Games (WPFG). The event brought together 10,599 athletes from 55 countries. In this descriptive, Canadian study, the composition of the medical team is analyzed, the unique challenges faced are discussed, and an analysis of the illness and injury rates is presented. This event occurred during a labor dispute affecting the sole provider of emergency ambulance service in the jurisdiction, which necessitated additional planning and resource allocation. As such, the context of this event as it relates to the literature on mass gathering medicine is discussed with a focus on how large-scale public events can impact emergency services for the community.
Methods: This is a case report study.
Results: There were 1,462 patient encounters. The majority involved musculo-skeletal injuries (53.8%). The patient presentation rate (PPR) was 109.40/1,000. The medical transfer rate (MTR) was 2.32/1,000. The ambulance transfer rate (ATR) for the 2009 WPFG was 0.52/1,000. In total, 31 patients were transported to the hospital, the majority for diagnostic evaluation. Only seven calls were placed to 9-1-1 for emergency ambulance service.
Conclusions: The 2009 WPFG was a mass-gathering sporting event that presented specific challenges in relation to medical support. Despite relatively high patient presentation rates, the widely spread geography of the event, and a reduced ability to depend on 9-1-1 emergency medical services, there was minimal impact on local emergency services. Adequate planning and preparation is crucial for events that have the potential to degrade existing public resources and access to emergency health services for participants and the public at large.