Triage categories, type of injuries and medical usage rates at mass gatherings in Belgium


Adequate on-site first aid delivery at mass gatherings is one of the cornerstones to ensure a safe and healthy mass gathering such as music festivals, sport events or city festivals. In a retrospective study, we investigated medical usage rates, frequency of triage categories and type of injury or medical complaint, among attendees at mass gatherings in Flanders, Belgium. 

We analyzed the Medical Triage and Registration Informatics System (MedTRIS) database, which includes prospectively collected person-level data regarding individuals visiting on-site health posts at mass gatherings in Flanders, Belgium. Mass gatherings attended by >10 000 people and organized ≥5 times between 2009 and 2018 were included. 

We found that medical usage rates, the proportion of patients in triage, and injury or medical complaint categories, varied across 194 episodes of 28 mass gatherings in Belgium, with highest patient presentation rates for outdoor (electronic) dance music events, and highest transfer to hospital rates for indoor electronic dance music events. While the majority of incidents require only first aid, there are rare medical emergencies that require the presence of a nurse or (emergency) physician.

Our data in particular suggest that more advanced providers should be present at indoor music events, either dance or electronic dance music, and that transport should be more readily available.

Future international initiatives to standardize the collection and analysis of mass gathering health data are needed to enable meta-analyses, comparison of mass gatherings across societies and modelling of various scenarios to inform health services, ultimately resulting in a more cost-effective prehospital care at mass gatherings. Our own prediction model, which was developed based on the MedTRIS data, can serve as a first step toward this goal.

The results of our analysis have now been published in Emergency Medicine Journal