Skip Navigation LinksHome > Blogs > Advanced Emergency Nursing Blog from AENJ
Advanced Emergency Nursing Blog from AENJ
The concepts, concerns, clinical practices, researches, and future of Advanced Emergency Nursing.
Monday, January 26, 2015

When I was a Paramedic, there were two bêtes-noirs (black beast) calls that I did not wish to encounter. The first would be a birth upon the third floor up, with a prolapsed cord, as maintaining displacement pressure and carrying the stretcher on the stairs would be so awkward. The other, not discussed today, would have been to be confronted with an absolute need for an unavoidable cricothyrotomy, as there was no protocol to do one at all. (Either a Hero, or "the schmuck who used to work here.")


Another crew did have the prolapsed cord case, and resolved the issue by carrying Mom's stretcher down the stairs head-first providing steep reverse Trendelenburg's position (not clear if genupectoral position was used) to take pressure off the cord. All went well. Not in the textbook, but it worked.


Usually, in the ED, the simple and great goal is to get the parturient upstairs to OB-GYN, if you have one, as soon as possible. Sometimes, you can't just get away with a smile, wave, and hearty “Good Luck!” spoken.


Always, the concern is that not just one patient is being treated, but two. Whether, the problem is chronic or incidental disease or a trauma in a gravid patient; a complication of the pregnancy; morphological changes of pregnancy that impact the care that you would give for an emergency condition; placental abruption or praevia; fetal demise, or a disaster of the labor,  delivery, or post-partum; --You may be the best available or timeliest provider.


Here, then, are some links for Third Trimester Emergencies. Keep your ultrasound handy. Verify your own laws and protocols for your practice before instituting change. Understand the application of the EMTALA law (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act [USA]) to your situation. Know and mobilize your resources and referral centers that might send a team.


Montefiore & NYMC Phelps Family Medicine Residents have some obstetric presentations for you.


Management of Cord Prolapse & Shoulder Dystocia [ppt] Eliza Rivera-Mitu, RN, MSN


Cord Prolapse - Perinatal Services British Columbia [pdf]


Umbilical cord prolapse A plan for an ob emergency

By Sharon T. Phelan MD, Bradley D. Holbrook MD September 01, 2013


Umbilical Cord Prolapse and Other Cord Emergencies Marybeth Lore, MD


Complications of Labor and Delivery by Jeanie Ward


Pulmonary Embolism: Evaluation in the pregnant patient. (2014) Emergency Care Institute, New South Wales.


Gist, R. S., Stafford, I. P., Leibowitz, A. B., & Beilin, Y. (2009). Amniotic fluid embolism. Anesthesia & Analgesia, 108(5), 1599-1602.


Third Trimester Bleeding [ppt] Scott Ramshur, MD


Third trimester bleeding [ppt] Tom Archer, MD MBA UCSD Anesthesiology


Kinney-Ham, L., Nguyen, H. B., Steele, R., & Walters, E. L. (2011). Acute aortic dissection in third trimester pregnancy without risk factors. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 12(4), 571.


Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, Vol 15 Issue 6 has five articles related to pregnancy.



Munnur, U., de Boisblanc, B., & Suresh, M. S. (2005). Airway problems in pregnancy. Critical care medicine, 33(10), S259-S268.


Mhyre, J. M., & Healy, D. (2011). The unanticipated difficult intubation in obstetrics. Anesthesia & Analgesia, 112(3), 648-652.


California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative. Preeclampsia/ Eclampsia - Emergency Department Resources.  {3 abstracts}


Luckett-Gatopoulos, S. (2014) Tiny Tip: PRE-eclampsia.


Nickson, C. Postpartum Emergencies. Life in the Fast Lane.


Egan, D. J., Bisanzo, M. C., & Hutson, H. (2009). Emergency department evaluation and management of peripartum cardiomyopathy. The Journal of emergency medicine, 36(2), 141-147.


Shaikh, N. (2010). An obstetric emergency called peripartum cardiomyopathy!. Journal of Emergencies, Trauma and Shock, 3(1), 39.


Capriola, M. (2013). Peripartum cardiomyopathy: a review. International journal of women's health, 5, 1.


Fett, J. D. (2014). Peripartum cardiomyopathy: A puzzle closer to solution. World journal of cardiology, 6(3), 87.


Jeejeebhoy, F. M., & Morrison, L. J. (2013). Maternal cardiac arrest: a practical and comprehensive review. Emergency medicine international, 2013.


Dijkman A, Huisman C, Smit M, Schutte J, Zwart J, van Roosmalen J, Oepkes D. Cardiac arrest in pregnancy: increasing use of perimortem caesarean section due to emergency skills training? BJOG 2010;117:282–287.


Weingart, S., MD (reviewing presentation of Salil Bhandari; article link, videos, related links) EMCrit Conference Blast Winner: Peri-Mortem C-Section .


Reid, C (2011) Prehospital resuscitative hysterotomy op.cit.


Roe III, EJ, MD, MBA, FACEP, FAAEM, MSF, CPE. Perimortem Cesarean Delivery. (2014)


Sullivan, MG (2007) Time Is Critical for Success in Perimortem C-Section ACEP News.


Status Asthmaticus in Pregnancy from Life in the Fast Lane Literature Review by Dr Chris Nickson


Desjardins, G. (2005). Management of the injured pregnant patient. Trauma. org.


Hill, CC. (2009) Trauma in the Obstetrical Patient.


Schwaitzberg, SD. (2013) Trauma and Pregnancy.


Roemer, B., et al. (2014) Trauma in the Obstetric Patient: A Bedside Tool. American College of Emergency Physicians.


Beauchamp, Luanna, MD FACOG (no date) Trauma in the Pregnant Female. [ppt] Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.


Kapadia, S., & Parmar, K. (2014). Antepartum Intrauterine Foetal Deaths In Third Trimester At A Tertiary Care Center. Emergency, 129, 80-1.


Fatima, U., Sherwani, R., Khan, T., & Zaheer, S. (2014). Foetal Autopsy-Categories and Causes of Death. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR, 8(10), FC05.


Long, long ago, an Instructor gave the blithe and authoritative injunction to not worry about childbirth: "It's easy. It's just like catching a football." To this all-too-free assurance, there could only be one reply: "I've never seen a football come at me feet-first, or with a cord wrapped around its neck!"


Good Luck!


Tom Trimble, RN CEN
All opinions are solely those of the author.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mankind seems to like making lists. Grocery and to-do lists; “Lists of Ten” in the books “for Dummies” series; various “books of lists.” Moses and God had a discussion that was rendered as a list of Ten Commandments. Many professions impart important rules as “Ten Commandments.” Jokes about physicians and God aspiring to each other’s job, aside, there seem to be a quantity of “Lists of Ten.”


It is not only common in Medicine (remembering that Divinity, Medicine, and Law were the classic doctoral professions), the form occurs in many fields when someone wishes to convey a declarative, injunctive, pronunciamento on essential matters, often borrowing the literary tones of English from the King James Bible to add gravitas.


Here are some useful and informative commandments from many fields: ours; allied fields; those that are helpful with other committees or responsibilities; are socially practical; and may help cope with regulatory compliance and challenges by law.


All are links, therefore minimal citations are made. Chosen from available material, some links may seem to be odd choices, but give insight into the work of others, or may be a springboard for thought. All knowledge is useful, if carefully selected and applied correctly.


Effort has been made to stick to “Ten Commandments” sources, with few exceptions. As always, assure for yourself whether they are currently valid, appropriate, permitted, and safe for your practice.





Emergency Medicine

The Ten Commandments of Emergency Medicine

Wrenn, K., & Slovis, C. M. (1991). The ten commandments of emergency medicine. Annals of emergency medicine, 20(10), 1146-1147.




Advice to New Interns

(Commentary upon 10 Commandments of EM)


Ten Commandments of Emergency Medicine


Luke & Cusack

Cork Emergency Medicine 2014


The Derriford twelve commandments of emergency medicine: a model for good practice in a changing world, or a survival guide for new medical staff

Smith, J. E., Higginson, I., Guly, H. R., Grant, I. C., Belsham, P., Hicks, A., ... & Boon, D. (2008). The Derriford twelve commandments of emergency medicine: a model for good practice in a changing world, or a survival guide for new medical staff. Emergency Medicine Journal, 25(12), 824-826.




The Ten Commandments of Medical Emergency Management for Dentists


Pediatric Emergency Medicines

Ten Commandments of Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Givens T. The Ten Commandments of Pediatric Emergency Medicine. J Emerg Med. 2004 Aug;27(2):193-4. PubMed PMID: 15261366.



What are the ten new commandments in severe polytrauma management?
Kam, C. W., Lai, C. H., Lam, S. K., So, F. L., Lau, C. L., & Cheung, K. H. (2010). What are the ten new
commandments in severe polytrauma management. World J Emerg Med, 1(2), 85-92.`




The „10 commandments“ of pediatric trauma

[07. Kinder und Jugendliche im Schockraum]
(English & German)

Dr. med. Ruth Löllgen, OÄ, Notfallzentrum für Kinder und Jugendliche




Electrocardiography Pitfalls and Artifacts: The 10 Commandments

Baranchuk, A., Shaw, C., Alanazi, H., Campbell, D., Bally, K., Redfearn, D. P., … & Abdollah, H. (2009). Electrocardiography pitfalls and artifacts: the 10 commandments. Critical care nurse, 29(1), 67-73.




The Ten Commandments of Wound Management

Ernst, A., Herzog, M., & Seidl, R. O. (2006). Head and Neck Trauma: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Thieme.




Ten commandments of burn management

Gupta J L. Ten commandments of burn management. Indian J Burns 2012;20:7-10




Transfusion ten commandments



The Ten Commandments of Airway Management

Slovis, C. M. (2005). Simple lessons to guide oxygenation & ventilation. JEMS.


Primary Care

10 commandments of primary care


Urgent Care

Deconstructing the Ten Commandments of Urgent Care Medicine



Vascular Emergency

The ‘Ten Commandments’ for European Society of Cardiology Guidelines on Aortic Diseases




The Ten Commandments of Good Psychiatry: Perspectives of a Fundamentalist Psychiatrist




Calming agitation with words, not drugs: 10 commandments for safety




Stress Aversion: 10 Commandments of Stress Avoidance for Working Moms




The 10 Commandments of Patient Engagement




Ten Commandments the Hearing Impaired Wish You Knew




The Ten Commandments of Communicating with People With Disabilities




The Ten Commandments Of Interacting With People With Mental Health Disabilities




Ten Commandments of Communicating about people with Intellectual Disabilities




Ten Commandments for Parents of Special Needs Children




10 Commandments of Good Parenting




10 Commandments of Dysfunctional Families


How they become that way


The 10 Commandments for Delivering Bad News


Workplace Human



Ten Commandments for the Care of Terminally Ill Patients




10 Commandments of Great Customer Service




10 Commandments for Hospitalists


An Oncologist’s view of patient needs when the patient is a caregiver.


10 Commandments for Nurses



Clinical Decision Support

The ten commandments of laboratory testing for emergency physicians

Lippi, G., Cervellin, G., & Plebani, M. (2014). The ten commandments of laboratory testing for emergency physicians. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, 52(2), 183-187.




Teaching in accident and emergency medicine: 10 commandments of accident and emergency radiology.

Touquet, R., Driscoll, P., & Nicholson, D. (1995). Teaching in accident and emergency medicine: 10 commandments of accident and emergency radiology. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 310(6980), 642.




“The Ten Commandments” for the Use of Iodinated Contrast Media




Ten Commandments to Reduce Cognitive Errors




Ten Commandments to Reduce Diagnostic Errors




Commandments to reduce cognitive and diagnostic errors


Blog adaptation of above two items.


Presentation ten most famous medical mistakes





Ten commandments for implementing clinical information systems




Ten Commandments for Effective Clinical Decision Support:

Making the Practice of Evidence-based Medicine a Reality



Risk Mgmt.

10 Commandments of Risk Management


(Camp Operations)


THE "20 Commandments" of EMTALA




Ten Commandments For Malpractice Depositions




The Top Ten Ways to Ensure Frustration, Miscommunication, and Poor Patient Care the Next Time You Provide (or Request) a Consult

[N.B. This is one of 15 articles in the same pdf relating to legal risks of consultations in the E.D.]


Patient Safety

Ten Patient Safety Commandments

A Health System’s view of patients helping their own safety.


The Ten Commandments of Emergency Care Research (p59 ff)


Mass Casualty

Management of Conventional Mass Casualty Incidents: Ten Commandments for Hospital Planning
Lynn, M., Gurr, D., Memon, A., & Kaliff, J. (2006). Management of conventional mass casualty incidents: ten commandments for hospital planning. Journal of burn care & research, 27(5), 649-658.



The 10 Commandments of Emergency Management (Opinion)



Psychosocial Response to Mass Casualty Terrorism: Guidelines for Physicians

(Not a Ten Commandments)



"Ten Commandments of Security and Law Enforcement" or "The Ten Deadly Sins."

Personal Security at Operational Level


The 10 Commandments of Preparedness

“Prepper” Philosophy


Ten Commandments of Emergency Preparedness Training

Trainer’s Tips for Training


Crisis and Critical Risk Communication

CDC guide for public messages & spokespersons


Crisis Management's 10 Critical Commandments


Explaining to the Public


Ten Commandments for using SMS in natural disasters

Text Alert Programs


Ten Commandments of security design



Top Ten Government Healthcare IT Security Commandments




Black Hat 2014: The 10 Commandments of Modern Cybersecurity




The ‘Ten Commandments’ of hospital design





The 10 Commandments For The OHS Person



The 10 Commandments of Safety for Supervisors


(Electrical Industry)


The 10 commandments of workplace safety



The Ten commandments of Safety Stop Taking Avoidable Risks - NOAA

(Detailed ppt for formal accident prevention program)


The 10 Commandments of Workplace Wellbeing Practitioners


Outdoor & Occupational


Ten Commandments of First Aid For Divers - First Aid for Diving Emergencies - Does the Diagnosis Matter?



Bush Survival 10 Commandments




10 Commandments of Avalanche Safety – Bruce Tremper




The Ten Commandments of Tractor Safety




The 10 Commandments of Event Safety



The Ten Commandments of Goal Setting



Ten Commandments for Implementing Change




The 10 Commandments of Steve Jobs [Infographic]




Quality Corner--Part 4: The 10 Commandments of Quality EMS



The Other Ten Commandments  10 Simple Steps to EMS Success



Fire Service

10 Commandments of Fire Safety




The Fire Department PIO Ten Commandments




10 Commandments Of Awesome Hot Chocolate




      Tom Trimble, RN CEN
All opinions are solely those of the author.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Unfortunately, most people learn most of what they think they know about firearms usage, ballistics, and gun handling from the entertainment industries. When stories are devised for entertainment, errors, or lies, are tolerated for “dramatic effect” and greater profits in a very competitive high-stakes industry with ever-evolving demands for yet more “cool” and bigger bang explosions. Truth, good sense, and science have nothing to do it with it.


True cowboys carried five rounds in their simple six-shooter for safety; the TV cowboys of our youth fired many more without reloading. The stunt man who is “shot” has a wired harness to yank him backwards off his feet. There’s no such thing as a handgun that is not detectable at the airport. Silencers don’t.  You can’t dance away from bullets as in Matrix, nor outrun an explosion.


All firearms-related events must be explained by laws of physics, mechanical and chemical engineering, and variables such as climatic effects and altitude, misadventure, human anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Very few conclusions can be drawn from the impressions of initial exam and treatment.


Because of skin elasticity, and wounding variables, it is not possible from wound appearance to judge the caliber of the missile. With measurements by thousandths of an inch, laboratory examination and measurement is more accurate.


Likewise the small hole is not necessarily the entry, nor is the large wound the exit. A contact wound may have gasses reflected backwards from a hard surface that blows the wound outwards. A round may dissipate its energy within the body and make only a small exit wound or none.


Projectiles do not travel in a straight line, neither in air nor through human tissue. The bullet may take an erratic path within the body as it meets different densities, or even be embolized. Be suspicious and thorough. Check for pulses and vascular insufficiency, or murmur. Sonography/radiography may help localize.


There is a vast difference in wounding effect between handguns and rifles or shotguns. There is no perfect weapon; and stopping a determined or drugged assailant may require many wounds; even wounds which will ultimately be fatal may not slow the aggression.


Wounding locations may not be what was initially perceived or stated due to movement during reaction time from detection of danger, response to assault, or delay in noting the ending of the fight. Natural psycho-physiological responses may alter perceptions during the life-threatening event.


It is critically important to document the physical findings in a plain-seeing, plain-speaking, non-judgmental manner that will not color or taint future investigations. In short, describe the simple appearance of wounds and findings, and the body’s response, without any forensic conclusions.


Avoid using wounding holes in clothing or tissue as the start of cutting with shears or incising tissue. Photograph whenever possible. Remember the confusion from JFK’s tracheotomy in the neck wound, and information recorded (or not recorded) in the chart.


Use paper bags, NOT plastic bags, for removed clothing, or to bag hands and feet, due to the “hot-house environment” created within the plastic that will degrade organic matter.

Call investigators and evidence technicians as soon as possible for best preservation and chain-of-custody evidence trail for all possible evidence. One must be prepared to state who had the evidence, when and for how long, and to whom and how it was transferred, at all times.


Recovered projectiles are preferably handled with gloved fingers, rather than toothed forceps that may alter evidentiary striations.


Accurate time entries are important to document.


It is not possible during acute resuscitation or at any time before a complete investigation, or even trial, to know who is innocent, guilty, or what occurred during the altercation. If you think your patient is the perpetrator, he may well be

an innocent, or even an off-duty or undercover officer. Do not compromise your care.


If there is active shooting around you, move, duck, get behind impenetrable cover, and leave by the safest way as soon as possible. Bullets, splinters, secondary missiles, do not discriminate or have a conscience; there is no self-destruct for a projectile in flight –it will not care whom it hits or discern if it was deserved or not. Police officers have poor hit probability, ricochets may occur, suppressive fire may be used (“keep ‘em pinned down”), or even ‘spray and pray.” Being a health care worker does not protect you from fire coming your way.


You are not safer in an area that is posted as a “gun-free zone.” Many potential, and defenseless, victims draw crazy “active killers.” 92% of recent events have occurred in such areas. Regardless, the number of such terror attacks is far less than public perception, is decreasing, and outnumbered by less obvious dangers.


The Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program, an effective and suitable safety program for young children, is provided by the National Rifle Association, It only promotes safety, not gun use.


Discussion of safety issues have led to safety rules for firearms in different forms  for many years. The most durable and concise modern expression is the Four Rules of Gun Safety by Col. Jeff Cooper, a USMC officer, academician, firearms trainer and expert. Any accidental or negligent shooting is a violation of one or more of these rules.


1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.

2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)

3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.

4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified,


The Eddie Eagle GunSafe® Program, an effective and suitable safety program for young children, is provided by the National Rifle Association, It only promotes safety, not gun use.


Simple Ballistics
Duke Orthopaedics presents Wheeless' Textbook of Orthopaedics: Gun Shot Wounds
Simple Reviews
Prehospital Care  Blog of medical and trauma care by Orthopaedic Surgeons in an austere environment in association with Society of Military Orthopedic Surgeons

Norouzpour, A., Khoshdel, A. R., Modaghegh, M. H., & Kazemzadeh, G. H. (2013). Prehospital Management of Gunshot Patients at Major Trauma Care Centers: Exploring the Gaps in Patient Care. Trauma Monthly, 18(2), 62.

PMID: 24350154 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC3860682

Tactical Combat Casualty Care (ppt)

Dan S. Mosely, Maj USA MC FS  20 Jun 05

Treatment Reviews

Bruner, D., Gustafson, C. G., & Visintainer, C. (2011). Ballistic injuries in the emergency department. Emergency medicine practice, 13(12), 1-30.

PMID 22232864 EB Medicine: Full text

Motamedi, M. H. K., Ebrahimi, A., & Shams, A. (2013). Current trends in the management of maxillofacial gunshot injuries: a critical review. Annals of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, 1(1), 8.

Rohit Shahani, MD, MS, MCh  & Jan David Galla, MD, PhD Penetrating Chest Trauma Treatment & Management  Medscape Updated: Dec 13, 2013

Dicpinigaitis, P. A., Koval, K. J., Tejwani, N. C., & Egol, K. A. (2006). Gunshot wounds to the extremities. BULLETIN-HOSPITAL FOR JOINT DISEASES NEW YORK, 64(3/4), 139.

de Barros Filho, T. E. P., Cristante, A. F., Marcon, R. M., Ono, A., & Bilhar, R. (2014). Gunshot injuries in the spine. Spinal cord. Spinal Cord (2014) 52, 504–510; doi:10.1038/sc.2014.56; published online 29 April 2014

Evolution of Care and Survival

In Medical Triumph, Homicides Fall Despite Soaring Gun Violence

By Gary Fields and Cameron McWhirter.  The Wall Street Journal Updated Dec. 8, 2012 12:12 a.m. ET

Hostile Fire Environments

Murphy’s Law of Combat Operations 
[includes coarse military humor]

Firearms in the Entertainment Industry
Horman, GS. 10 Movie Myths Dispelled “American Rifleman July 16, 2012

Pappalardo, Joe Anatomy of the Perfect (Undead) Headshot  Popular Mechanics website ©2014 Hearst Communication, Inc.

Seymour, Mike The Art of Wire Removal 10/27/07
{How stuntmen’s wires are removed from the image that you see on screen.}
Gun Safety
Gun Control Controversy

GunFacts.Info website 119 pp pdf

Lott, John R. New CPRC Report: Errors in Bloomberg’s latest report on Mass Shootings October 2, 2014 Crime Prevention Research Center

Lott, John R., Jr .Report from the Crime Prevention Research Center

The Myths about Mass Public Shootings: Analysis

October 9, 2014 Revised 36pp pdf

The Facts about Mass Shootings  It’s time to address mental health and gun-free zones. By John Fund. National Review Online December 16, 2012 4:00 PM


      Tom Trimble, RN CEN
All opinions are solely those of the author.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Much of what we do is to educate, whether patients, peers, or other staff. How often have we encountered the self-assured “newbie” staff member who is genuinely clueless, yet confidently not knowing what is not known? And there are those who always instinctively do the right thing, yet feel they are not masterful.

A1999 paper, by the two eponymous authors from Cornell University, describes the phenomena. Essentially, “If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent. […] the skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is. —David Dunning (as cited in Wikipedia article, below).

An example would be the recent ACLS graduate who tells the airway manager, who is ventilating the patient well without a leak, that he/she is holding the mask “upside-down”. This deliberate choice is known to the expert, but not well-published in basic literature. The so-called “merit badge courses” may contribute to this than a more comprehensive training program.


Unfortunately, there is a popular tendency to use the reference as a pejorative and jocular epithet. To apply such an indignity is without merit. Inevitably, in our complicated profession, we will encounter workers with different backgrounds and experiences. As those who continually share and teach, we owe it to the person to better their knowledge, and to better understand the intricacies of a more nuanced practice. It isn’t always possible to so immediately, but a simple “I’d like to explain it, later” will do.


Wikipedia Article: Dunning-Kruger Effect

Wikipedia Article: Four Stages of Competence

RationalWiki Article: Dunning-Kruger Effect

Lee, Chris. Revisiting why incompetents think they’re awesome

Dunning-Kruger study today: The uninformed aren't as doomed as the Web suggests. Ars Technica blog. May 25 2012, 9:00am PDT




Tom Trimble, RN CEN
All opinions are solely those of the author.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Because of your professional skills, you’ve been asked “to arrange first aid” for a group or cause in which you believe. You’re eager to help and believe that you can do the best possible job of it.


Your planning must consider the needs and resources, the number and type of attendance, location, potential risks, and liabilities, and the level of care that you intend to provide, scope of practice, and necessary supervision. There will be different considerations for an informal youth group, or a large public event (especially one in which intoxicants are common), and even by weather.


It is not possible for this column to give sufficiently deep and comprehensive advice or legal opinion; it’s our purpose to provoke thinking and planning points for which you may need local authoritative advice or legal counsel. Remember, too, that regardless of Good Samaritan laws, your own actions may be thought to be acting in a professional capacity as a provider or as an agent of the event organizers. You should review your professional liability and malpractice coverage to determine your personal risks. Does the organization’s umbrella policy provide coverage for this kind of event?


Plaintiff’s allegations will include their view of:

  • Your obligation to the victim/plaintiff;
  • And asserting that you failed to meet that obligation (duty)
  • The alleged causation of harm sustained;
  • Their assertion of Negligence/Willful Disregard/Gross Neglect (You knew, or should have known …).


Your Defense arguments might include:

  • Lack of relationship or obligation (might be modified by host or business invitee duties, or by paid admission);
  • Assumption of risk or contributory negligence by the plaintiff;
  • That Prevention/Mitigation efforts were reasonable and prudent;
  • That applicable Standards of Care were not breached.


If it is a large public event, with foreseeable risks, and admission is charged of other value exchanged, then it may be wise to contract for needed services from licensed and insured providers: Venue operators, Security firm; event medical crews or EMS stand-by providers; to provide some shielding to your group as to liability. Coordination and planning with official emergency services is very useful. Community services have an established routine, authority, and controlled scope of practice, and protocols, that help protect them, you, and the patients encountered.


If a high level of care or resource-intensive capability (mass attendees, large area, many defibrillators) is needed, or substantial numbers of qualified volunteers, especially for a high-visibility public fund-raiser, consider approaching a hospital or professional group to sponsor/donate/provide equipment, staff, funding, etc., in exchange for advertising/visibility/PR. Additionally, staff would have licensing and certifications all verified lessening the amount of work in oversight.


In what manner will care be made available? A central first aid station? Multiple stations? Roving teams? (In large events, or with severe weather stress, some providers could be actively patrolling to find persons at risk before they go down.) How will you be notified of needs elsewhere on the property? Who will respond?


Communications and transportation are important considerations. Calls for help, dispatching of responders, summoning transporters, interfacing with public services or destination hospitals, will require reliable communications and persons to coordinate/track calls, etc. Internal mobility for teams may require golf carts or ATVs, and stretcher capability, if it would be hard for conventional ambulances or fire trucks to navigate.


Recruit, in depth, and have co-coordinators, so that “the show can go on” regardless of no-shows, can’t-do-its, or personal emergencies. Make sure that everyone understands the goal, the mission, the plan, and the back-up plans. Any team member should be able to perform in your absence.


Prevention is better than cure. Water, cooling stations, people-spotters, patrolling, can be essential. Be alert to safety hazards and deal with them immediately. No chains on exit doors. No fire hazards. Ensure the venue operator fulfills the safety obligations. If water activities are available, ensure that there will be trained Lifeguards without other responsibilities, suitably equipped, and with relief staff available.


If you are the Camp Nurse for a youth group, you should have medical exam & history records for the youth, their leaders, and staff. On “Visitors’ Day,” you will have more people on the grounds, and no foreknowledge of their history and needs.


I hope that this discussion raises questions, gives insights, prompts reflection upon larger issues not otherwise immediately apparent, and inspires you to successful comprehensive planning for a great event.


Tom Trimble, RN CEN
All opinions are solely those of the author.

About the Author

Tom Trimble
Tom Trimble, RN CEN is the Online Editor of AENJ.