DC Department of Health and Volunteers Collaborate for a Successful “Concert for Valor”

Submitted By

Peggy Keller
DC Department of Health, District of Columbia
January 5, 2015

On November 11, 2014, HBO, Starbucks, and Chase Bank hosted the “Concert for Valor” on the National Mall in Washington, DC. In honor of Veteran’s Day, the concert drew an estimated 800,000 attendees, with the crowd size larger than many Fourth of July celebrations and presidential inaugurations.

With so many in attendance, the DC Department of Health worked with several volunteer groups, including medical volunteers from George Washington Medical Faculty Associates (GW MFA), American Medical Response, and the American Red Cross, to keep concertgoers safe.

Six weeks prior to the concert, the U.S. Park Service began formation of a team to provide assistance during the concert. The team included the DC Department of Health and GW MFA, American Medical Response, and the American Red Cross. On the day of the concert, 63 volunteers from GW MFA provided medical and logistical support to augment staffing capacity at the Concert for Valor, in conjunction with medical volunteers from other volunteer local groups.

Volunteers filled roles at each of the 14 medical aid stations. Each medical aid station had a team comprised of a doctor, nurse, EMT, and three volunteers to assist with logistics. Having the medical volunteers in attendance proved critical since they were able to treat injured concertgoers onsite, thereby preventing patient surge at local hospitals. Throughout the event, 128 attendees sought medical treatment. With the medical teams able to treat onsite, only eight patients needed transport to the local hospitals for larger issues such as head trauma, shortness of breath, and chest pain. An event of this size on average requires transport of 20-40 patients, so only eight patients requiring transport marked a significantly lower number than usual.

The Concert for Valor offered several key takeaways. First, the electronic patient tracking system in place for the concert proved especially valuable since it showed which stations were seeing patients and the level of triage required. The system provided important situational awareness for monitoring partners including the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, Health and Human Services, Metropolitan Police Department, Park Police, and Fire and EMS. Additionally, Ham radio was also an important capability in place as a redundant communications tool for momentary instances of patient tracking system freezes caused by the large number of attendees using cell phones. “The Concert for Valor demonstrated how well the volunteer team works together at these types of events,” said Drew Maurano, PA-C, with the GW MFA. “Medical volunteers are more valuable at these types of events than just giving band-aids and can have a large impact on our healthcare system.”

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