Frequency and location of mass gathering events in relation to emergency departments: a descriptive study


emergency departments
health care
planned events
in-event care

How to Cite

Hutton A, Ranse J, Lipscomb R, Rabb H, Crilly J, Hutton G. Frequency and location of mass gathering events in relation to emergency departments: a descriptive study. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine [Internet]. 2019Sep.5 [cited 2023Mar.26];160. Available from:



As the number of mass gathering events increases, so too does the reliance on tertiary emergency healthcare services. Approximately 1% of event attendees may present to a local emergency department for clinical assessment and/or management. Often, these attendees are transported by ambulance services. The purpose of this study is to determine the frequency and location of events held in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. This information may be used by event and health service personnel to further inform event planning such as staffing, equipment and economic considerations when large events in the community occur.


This descriptive study used data scraping of an established data warehouse to identify events held in the 2017 calendar year by name, type, location (within the state of NSW) and duration. Using Google Maps, the distance and travel time between these events and the nearest emergency department (ED) was determined. Data was analysed using simple descriptive statistics.


Of the 722 events in NSW analysed, 395 were single-day events. The majority of these were concerts (n=284, 39%), followed by festivals (n=259, 36%) and sporting events (n=176, 24%). The average distance and time to arrive at an ED from an event was 15.0 (±35.8) kilometres and 15.4 (±27.2) minutes, respectively.


Existing literature has highlighted that event attendees are regularly transported to emergency departments from events. This research has demonstrated that events occur frequently with varying vicinity to nearest EDs, with the majority of events occurring near territory care centres. However, there is limited research on the impact on emergency healthcare services resulting from an event.


World Health Organization. What is WHO’s role in mass gatherings? 2016. Available at: [Accessed 2 August 2018].

Isla N, Endericks T, Barbeschi M. Chapter 1: Contextual issues and risk assessments. Public health for mass gatherings: key considerations. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2015.

Brown S. Developments in the real-time evaluation of audience behaviour at planned events. International Journal of Event and Festival Management 2013;4:43-55.

Lenson S, Keene T, Luther M, Burke B, Johnston A. The impacts on in-event, ambulance and emergency department services from patients presenting from a mass gathering event: a retrospective analysis. Emerg Med Australas 2018;31:423-8.

Turris SA, Lund A, Bowles R, et al. Mass-gathering health research foundational theory: part 2-event modelling for mass gatherings. Prehosp Disaster Med 2014;29:655-63.

Keene T, Lenson S, Luther M, et al. Health service impact from mass gatherings: a systematic literature review. ibid. 2017;32:71-7.

Arbon P. Mass gathering medicine: a review of the evidence and future directions for research. Ibid. 2007;22:131-5.

Meites E, Brown JF. Ambulance need at mass gatherings. ibid. 2010;25:511-4.

DeMott JM, Hebert CL, Novak M, Mahmood S, Peksa GD. Characteristics and resource utilization of patients presenting to the emergency department from mass gathering events. Am J Emerg Med 2018;36:983-7.

Ruest SM, Stephan AM, Masiakos PT, et al. Substance use patterns and in-hospital care of adolescents and young adults attending music concerts. Addict Sci Clin Pract 2018;13:1.

Grimes DA, Schultz KF. Descriptive studies: what they can and cannot do. Lancet 2002;359:145-9.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2016 Census QuickStats. New South Wales. 2016. Available at: census/2016/quickstat/1 [Accessed 25 July 2018].

WebHarvey. What is web scraping? Available at: [Accessed 3 July 2018].

Nicholl J, West J, Goodacre S, Turner J. The relationship between distance to hospital and patient mortality in emergencies: an observational study. Emerg Med J 2007;24:665-8.

Verdonk N, Ullah S, Arbon P. Understanding the characteristics of patient presentations of young people at outdoor music festivals. Prehosp Disaster Med 2014;29:160-6.