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View Full Version : Onsite Medic and Assuming More Liability Because of It



mrfoos
09-10-2012, 09:51 AM
Hey guys,


I am running an outdoor scary woods. It's about 1/2 mile walk and fresh cut trail... which means off trail there are sticks and dangers everywhere. For safety reasons we plan on walking the guests EXTREMELY slow with a zombie guide leading them. We will not have many of the traditional startle scares. We cant have people running off the trail. We started considering having an onsite medic with equipment and asked our local business networking group for referals. We got some good referals but we also had our group lawyer chime in that we should consult with him first, that by having medics on site we were assuming more liability. His fee is $300 an hour to actually go discuss.

Have you guys gone over the pros and cons of an onsite medic service / ambulance? I'm sure a lawyer can always come up with reasons on why we should consult first. But is this a legit worry?

Thanks!

farnsworth
09-10-2012, 10:33 AM
I'm not sure how that assumes more liability; at least around here, you're pretty much liable no matter what. If you don't have a medic on site, how does that reduce liability, I wonder? We've had paramedics on-site in past years, and although they volunteered their time, I'm sure the same principles apply, and we haven't had issues with liability, though the worst we had was probably a severe sprain when one customer fell atop anothers' knee. The paramedics were on their "off time", so there wasn't an ambulance standing by, but in this case we called for one, which wasn't really rare but it's also not commonplace. Your situation, with the off-trail dangers, may be different, but heres my two pennies. It can't hurt to check it out, but I'd be wary of someone who says you need to talk to him, "but, oh yeah, that'll be $300 an hour"

Howie Slobber Erlich
09-10-2012, 10:56 AM
One of our security people is an EMT. However, we do not make it real well known. He is just there in case someone needs immediate attention before an ambulance could arrive.

We have a very safe attraction with few if any emergencies. My concern for you is that you are so afraid of someone getting hurt. To me that suggests you know there is a safety problem and expect injuries.

If that's the case you should figure out how to make it safer. Maybe use some sort of barrier to keep people from entering the wooded area like snow fencing, which is relatively inexpensive. A lot cheaper than a law suit.

I am also assuming that you have liability insurance. You are insane if you do not have coverage. Injuries at attractions put a black eye on the whole industry and you will lose those customers forever. Plus bad word of mouth will kill you. You must do your best to prevent them at whatever cost is necessary.

It is always a good idea to listen to your lawyer. They are there to help you and protect your interests. $300.00 seems very fair to make sure you do things right. I think what he is saying is that with a paramedic or ambulance etc. on site, that you are aware in the first place that there is a problem. That would could make you seem insensitive to the concerns of safety. Some could say that why would you have them on stand by unless you expected injuries. Making you look bad if it gets to court.

Prevent the injuries in the first place and then you have nothing to worry about.

mrfoos
09-10-2012, 11:35 AM
Our lawyer replied back without a fee consultation. Yay! He is worried that having stand by EMT actually increases our liability. He has legal terms for it but basically, once you start assuming a little you are 100% responsible. You can't half ass anything at that point. That still leaves with with the question... to EMT or not to EMT.

As far as making 1/2 mile of real woods safer... realistically there is only so much you can do. I guess we could put up 8 foot plywood walls all the way through and cut down all the trees in advance... but then I guess there's no point to it being in the woods. My concern is because I'm a worry wort... not because there are extreme dangers I'm certain will befall our guests and staff. Woods are woods. Indoors is indoors.

Howie Slobber Erlich
09-10-2012, 01:06 PM
I am simply suggesting that there are inexpensive ways to keep them on the path that should not interfere with the feel and look of the event. A really cheap way might be to run a couple lines of rope down each side of the path. Could be done for only a few hundred dollars. That would not detract from the show and should help to keep them on the path and avoid them entering the woods and getting hurt. Even if you run it a couple feet back into the woods so it was kind of out of site.

Obviously, if you can have an EMT on staff, especially for free, I would do it. I just would not make it known that he/she is there. I would not even suggest having them step in and treat any injury unless it's life or death. If you can wait for an ambulance that's what you should do. Treating them opens you up for a law suit should anything go wrong.

Then, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. I've only been doing haunted attractions for 26 years. I just thought I could offer a simple solution to help avoid injuries in the first place. Shame on me. I'll keep my mouth shut when people are asking for advice from now on.

mrfoos
09-10-2012, 03:04 PM
I am simply suggesting that there are inexpensive ways to keep them on the path that should not interfere with the feel and look of the event. A really cheap way might be to run a couple lines of rope down each side of the path. Could be done for only a few hundred dollars. That would not detract from the show and should help to keep them on the path and avoid them entering the woods and getting hurt. Even if you run it a couple feet back into the woods so it was kind of out of site.

Obviously, if you can have an EMT on staff, especially for free, I would do it. I just would not make it known that he/she is there. I would not even suggest having them step in and treat any injury unless it's life or death. If you can wait for an ambulance that's what you should do. Treating them opens you up for a law suit should anything go wrong.

Then, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. I've only been doing haunted attractions for 26 years. I just thought I could offer a simple solution to help avoid injuries in the first place. Shame on me. I'll keep my mouth shut when people are asking for advice from now on.


Oh come on! :) I really do appreciate the advice. I've run trail events off and on for 20 years just never for profit and never for 1000s of visitors. To be honest I have tried the trail boundaries before. I went so far as to put 3 2x4s on each side: 1 at neck level, 1 at waist level, and 1 at knee level. At the scenes where there was a startle scare, people were STILL climbing through the boards to get off the trail. I joke you not. I came to the conclusion that if you startle scare a lot you better have walls. Maybe its different for you.

Anyway, my original question was less about how to minimize accidents and more about whether or not you pros had even been advised against having staffed EMTs. Your advice about "hiding" the EMT is a great suggestion. Or least it sounds like it to me. Thank you for sharing that idea, and I appologize for sounding like I was discrediting your advice.

Oh and btw, we don't have access to free EMTs. They will basically cost us the same as 2 and 1/2 regular staff members.

Howie Slobber Erlich
09-10-2012, 03:40 PM
If they are going to cost that much, I would not Bother! I would not let treat like I said unless there was no other choice!

Anne Garrard Baud
09-11-2012, 03:01 AM
If you do have a paramedic on site you need to make sure that it is in his scope of practice to provide his services when he is not on duty. And if there was an injury that required an ambulance you would still have to call for one. I don't see the point of having him there in the "medic" status. I am an ER nurse and this is just my 2 cents.

farnsworth
09-11-2012, 06:36 AM
Our lawyer replied back without a fee consultation. Yay! He is worried that having stand by EMT actually increases our liability. He has legal terms for it but basically, once you start assuming a little you are 100% responsible. You can't half ass anything at that point. That still leaves with with the question... to EMT or not to EMT.

As far as making 1/2 mile of real woods safer... realistically there is only so much you can do. I guess we could put up 8 foot plywood walls all the way through and cut down all the trees in advance... but then I guess there's no point to it being in the woods. My concern is because I'm a worry wort... not because there are extreme dangers I'm certain will befall our guests and staff. Woods are woods. Indoors is indoors.

Glad to hear he didn't charge you for the consult, that is a big win :)


Do you have safety inspections? We have to pass inspection before we open for the season, then we have recurring inspections every friday and saturday, plus any other heavy traffic nights. And these are thorough inspections. This year was "one of the best we've seen", according to them, and we still had about two pages of notes at the end. Sweep this, secure this screw, move that prop, aim that emergency flood light 5 more degrees... And yet I still worry about the safety of our customers. The safety of all humans on our property is my first priority, so my perspective is to ensure that over looking like we're expecting some tragedy to befall us, over turning a blind eye to the reasonable possibility of minor injuries. Again, this is just my perspective. To be honest, if it costs you as much as you say, it may be overkill, so to speak. If you have a good ems response time, and you don't often have any injuries more serious than some scraped skin, and you have staff that is safety-conscious, in that instance you shouldn't have to worry much about not having an emt on standby

BigT
09-11-2012, 09:59 AM
When working events with EMTs, if they are off-duty and they treat someone, they (and you) are personally liable for mistreatment, or whatever might occur. Our security is always instructed to ask the person first if they want an ambulance, and if they say no then we have to honor that decision - unless of course they are lying there bleeding to death. There is also the Good Samaritan law that comes into play at some point but I am no lawyer so best to ask one about that.

I have had drug overdoses deny treatment and the PD tell me there is nothing to be done but let them go home with their friends and hope someone gets wise - why? Because the PD does not want the liability either. Its a tricky situation, best to get legal advice regarding use of off-duty EMTs, etc and how they are engaged.

I know that I am very reluctant to offer assistance at concerts other than call for an on-duty EMT and I extend that caution to the haunt as well. Just too damn risky these days.

tonguesandwich
09-11-2012, 03:40 PM
Last haunt I did we had a person have a major heart attack. I could tell just by looking at him because I used to be an EMT. He didn't want me to call an ambulance but I did anyway.. he survived with a triple bypass. Moral of the story... when I open back up in a few years I will do like major Vegas hotels do and invest in a defibrillator and train a few staff members. Beyond that I will just call an ambulance beyond first aid.

Greg Chrise
09-11-2012, 10:20 PM
There are better ways to be covered without having a nurses station and paying $25 per hour. Actors in a small haunt know how to offer some assistance, you even have little course if necessary. Or for a little larger deal, you have your own security staff, kind of inspired by the Las Vegas casino thing. They might make $10 an hour and are yours with the intention of just getting help in a timely manner. Mostly their job is to direct people to the exits or onward to the next section of entertainment. Kind of like store keeper just say hello so shopp lifters may chose not to strike since they have been aknowledged.

Some may already be people with those skills but that isn't thier special intent.

I have had about 3 younger girls a year go from the first room into something else that caused asthma attacks and hyperventilation. So the only way to restore their breathing was with oxygen bottles and people that knew where and what oxygen bottles were for. Some didn't have their little spray bottle, others had no idea they had a problem like that. It wasn't fog machines, it was just too many things happening at one time going from a regular room to dark odd shaped hallways.

Actual injuries are actually very low in a poll of lots of haunted houses. Fire people and security people tend to overlap these skills rather than having an ambulance on standby like an Evil Kenevil jump where someone is definitely going to get messed up.

monsterwax
09-12-2012, 06:20 PM
Spend the $300 on insurance, not the lawyer. That's my advice (and I'm not even charging you for it).

hacksaw the clown
09-15-2012, 07:58 AM
my thoughts,before i retired to play at the lizzie borden house,i was a paramedic firefighter for 20 years,that being said...NEVER EVER have your emt stand by while rescue is enroute for several reasons, your nor qualified to judge if an injury is serious or not,injuries arent always what they seem,especially medical issues.the stand by emt is risking his liscensure by standing by and doing nothing while someone is ill or injured,it would be neglect and the state your emt is licensed in will yank his ticket.never decide what is an emergency and what unless your qualified to do so,again i repeat illness and injury quite often mimic a different illness or injury.you got an emt on staff...use him,fuck whatever your lawyer says,do the right thing for the ill and injured, which have your emt treat,have rescue tranport,and document in detail. as i said i was a firefighter-paramedic for 20 years,if anyone here has any questions,please feel free to contact me,if i cant answer it,ill get you pointed in the direction of someone who can.haunts have absolutley got to remain safe

Jim Warfield
09-16-2012, 06:54 AM
Look up,during daylight for any half-rotted limbs that a wind could bring down on customers.
Do you know what poison ivy looks like? How about the rest of the noxious weeds that can make someone's next few weeks miserable?
Tree roots, sticks can slide forciably into sandals and lesser footwear causing fairly long-term discomfort and much worse.
(Ban such footwear?) I know of one outdoor haunt that does this. A mere foot-injury can require much time to heal.
Keep the staggering, screaming drunks OUT!
Make groups smaller rather than larger. Have enough employees to watch the number of customers anticipated.
Don't "Chase!"
Watch the weather forecasts, weather radar..
Be aware of the local wild animal population, don't let them "Help Out"!
Two nights ago, we heard a very long, loud howl, from just over the cliff from our house late at night that was very non-coyote-like.
I think the rumors of Wolf sightings just might have truth behind them. (A man's illegal "Pet" Wolf escaped a year ago just North of town...)