In the wake of the departure of Joseph Pred, long-time head of Burning Man’s Emergency Services Department, BMOrg have severed the half-million dollar a year contract with Humboldt General Hospital to provide emergency medical services at Burning Man.
From the Reno-Gazette Journal:
For the past four years, Humboldt General Hospital has been at the helm of the onsite clinic and any emergency medical services which require transport to either its main facility in Winnemucca, Nev. or other facilities in Reno.
But Burning Man has severed its current medical services contract with Humboldt General Hospital and is reviewing its options.
In 2011, Burning Man signed a five-year contract with Humboldt General Hospital, which was expected to be operate the medical services at the event through this year’s festivities.
Burning Man was to pay $500,000 annually for Humboldt General Hospital’s services at Burning Man, according to a statements in August by Humboldt General Hospital CEO Jim Parrish…Burning Man has made no promises that Humboldt General Hospital will continue to provide medical services for the weeklong event that this year will take place from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7.
“We are looking at possible new medical support service providers, and Humboldt General Hospital is part of that review,” said Jim Graham, special projects senior adviser for Burning Man…
Burning Man expects to have a new contract in place as early as April, according to Graham, who noted that it very well could include Humboldt General Hospital.
…Up until 2011, the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority of Reno, better known as REMSA, served Burning Man.
“It’s a logistical nightmare,” said Kevin Romero, REMSA director.
Setting up a medical clinic in the middle of a desert is no easy task, he said, especially when the bulk of participants are receiving heavy doses of heat and sun exposure. Not to mention, many of them are under the influence of alcohol and drugs…
The Reno-based ambulance service served Burning Man for 12 years before the free spirit festival held in the Black Rock Desert decided to sign with Humboldt General Hospital, which put in the highest bid for the contract at the time.
If Humboldt General Hospital again signs a contract with Burning Man, REMSA may re-enter the equation, according to Pat Songer, chief of Emergency Medical Services at Humboldt General Hospital.
Humboldt General Hospital has provided between 300 and 350 employees on site at Burning Man.
The employees range from nurses to physicians to maintenance staff. Their departments range from emergency medicine to radiology, according to Songer.
One of the resources that Humboldt General Hospital is short of, however, is ambulances.
REMSA has a larger fleet, and Humboldt General Hospital is interested in requesting an extra five ambulances from REMSA, in addition to the eight that the hospital provides on site already.
Still, the decision to bring REMSA back into the equation ultimately would be Burning Man’s, as it will come at an additional cost to the nonprofit.
Songer said that it is the hospital’s hope that Burning Man recognizes the value of bringing REMSA’s backup resources on board since it could namely would improve the event’s mass injury and mass casualty plan.
…medical staff that practice on the playa gain a multitude of new skills working in such a remote location that lacks the conveniences provided by a standard clinic or hospital.
“It’s really the optimal place to practice medicine. It’s really hands on,” said Louis Meneiola, chief of hospital operations for Burning Man.
The majority of incidents treated at Burning Man are dehydration related, followed by minor trauma cases that may include abrasions or lacerations.
Alcohol and drug related cases make up a surprisingly small number of the cases that are seen by Humboldt General Hospital’s staff, though they require perhaps the most attention, Songer said.
In all, Humboldt General Hospital Staff treat an average of about 450 patients each day