Under normal circumstances, the city of Las Vegas draws hundreds of thousands of attendees to special events throughout the calendar year. When planning the necessary medical coverage for these events, host organizations may imprudently forgo the use of licensed emergency medical companies in favor of cheaper rates offered by unlicensed “first-aid” companies. This mistake is not only a finable offense; it also exposes host organizations to criminal and civil liabilities to any special event attendees who require medical care.
From sports tournaments and concerts to huge conventions and festivals, the lights of Las Vegas draw thousands of special events every year. The hundreds of thousands of people who attend these events range from mere spectators to participants and competitors. As you can imagine, such a wide range of activities and attendees necessarily involves appropriately scaled medical support to ensure proper safety, which is regulated at the state level.
In the State of Nevada, any temporary event with a projected attendance of 2,500 or more persons must provide special event medical support (“First-Aid Stations”) with varying levels of required medical support, which often depends on the projected size of the special event. At a minimum, First-Aid Stations must be staffed by medical personnel who possess the equivalent training of an emergency medical technician (EMT). For larger events, a First-Aid Station will include additional medical personnel, such as nurses or roving EMTs.
Importantly, the personnel who staff the First-Aid Stations must be licensed. This seemingly obvious requirement is incredibly important and is contingent upon factors described below. Simply put, licensure is the method by which the State of Nevada – and host organizations – can ensure that any and all medical personnel are properly certified. Certifications ensure that medical personnel possess the appropriate skills, knowledge, and training to provide the necessary level of care in emergency situations.
In the State of Nevada, licensing flows through the organization employing emergency medical technicians. A fully licensed and authorized Special Event Medical Services (“SEMS”) company must necessarily employ a licensed physician to serve as its medical director to oversee its medically related operations. In order to be licensed in the State of Nevada, an EMT must receive approval from that medical director because EMTs are not permitted to operate independently, nor can they perform emergency medical services for a company without proper oversight. Therefore, it is essential that any company contracted by a host organization to perform special event medical coverage have to employ a medical director.
Unfortunately, event promoters and organizers in Nevada are often tempted to hire unlicensed “first-aid” companies to provide First-Aid Stations rather than licensed and authorized SEMS companies. While these non-licensed companies can offer cheaper rates, they almost certainly lack medical directors and therefore cannot possibly provide licensed EMTs.
Unlicensed medical personnel present an enormous liability risk for any host organizations hoping to properly cover their planned special events with appropriate medical coverage. Should an event attendee require medical assistance on-site, the First-Aid Station’s medical personnel will be the first to respond. Not only could the unlicensed medical personnel be held directly liable for negligence and fraudulent misrepresentation by the patient in their care, but the event promoters and organizers could also be held vicariously liable and legally responsible for assisting in the performance of un-licensed medical services.
Fortunately, it’s easy for host organizations to avoid the pitfalls of utilizing cut-rate first-aid organizations. The Southern Nevada Health District offers a list of SEMS companies which are certified and licensed to provide special event medical coverage. Many of these SEMS companies have also pivoted to provide COVID-19 screening programs for host organizations and companies throughout Clark County. In any case, we also suggest obtaining the name and license number of the physician who serves as the medical director for any “first-aid” company which claims it can provide special event medical coverage. The up-front cost is absolutely worth avoiding the potential litigation risks down the road.