Steamboat always has been home to a catalogue of organized athletic events that push the limits of the athletes and the organizers.
Now, a group of local emergency care professionals has started a business designed to protect the physical well-being of the athletes, as well as the ability of the organizers to stage and grow a safe event.
Event Medical Solutions Unlimited founders Dr. Laura Sehnert and paramedics Tim Baldwin and Ebin Latrimurti realized from experience in the Yampa Valley that event planners, many of whom send athletes far afield into mountainous terrain, were struggling to recruit and coordinate volunteer first responders.
“People love doing it. It’s a great community where people like to volunteer. What we are doing is providing highly skilled professionals for events that have any potential for injury or illness,” Baldwin said.
Another important member of the Event Medical team is AJ Fleming.
He has worked with an ambulance service covering cycling and big-air ski and snowboard events in Summit County.
Sehnert is an emergency room physician and serves as the medical director for Routt County Search and Rescue.
Baldwin runs the paramedic training program at Colorado Mountain College. And Latrimurti commutes between Steamboat and the Gulf Coast, where he works with a company that provides helicopter search and rescue services, often in support of energy companies.
Event Medical cut its teeth last summer at the inaugural Steamboat Stinger mountain bike race on Emerald Mountain, where it came to the aid of several injured cyclists and treated a case of exhaustion, as well as head injuries.
Latrimurti said the new company also protects event organizers from financial harm with malpractice, liability and workers’ compensation insurance in place, as well as licensed members.
Unlike volunteer crews at events, which are qualified to provide basic life support, Event Medical can provide advanced life support, including the use of cardiac monitoring and administering medication and intravenous fluids, for example.
The cost of providing emergency medical service to events will be based on a variety of factors, including the number of participants, location and route, as well as the inherent risk of the event.
Baldwin said the lack of structure that volunteers encounter when providing first response medical services to events is not to be underestimated.
“Sometimes it’s, ‘Here’s your bandages, and we’re not sure how we’re going to run things,’” he said. Event Medical will provide the standing orders and protocols needed to assemble an effective team with a hierarchy and standard procedures.
And it’s not just competitive sporting events that are included in Event Medical’s business plan. They also are prepared to staff concerts, festivals and large weddings. Destination weddings, in particular, often bring several generations whose members aren’t acclimated to the high elevation of the valley.
Sehnert emphasized that Event Medical in no way is in competition with existing emergency medical services but rather intends to collaborate closely with them. That means collaborating with fire ambulance crews, law enforcement agencies, ski patrol and search and rescue.
Fleming concurred. He said Event Medical’s role will be to provide a consistently high level of care up until the point the patient is handed off to emergency transport. Sehnert said that when appropriate, the service will include direct consultation with emergency room physicians.
And Event Medical will continue to work with volunteers from the community in some cases, providing valuable experience to people who have come through Baldwin’s program at CMC.
Latrimurti thinks event organizers who pause to think about the potential costs of even successfully contesting a lawsuit will see the value his company offers. And that’s before peace of mind is factored into the equation.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com