News, Patient Care

Riverbend EMS on Call for Tenn. Festival Emergencies

Inside two tents at Riverbend, the services provided could spell the difference between life and death.

Hamilton County EMS has tents set up near the main festival entrance on Chestnut Street and another near the Olgiati Bridge. Their command post is located near the Hunter Museum of American Art. Over the years, EMS officials said, they have seen everything from sprained ankles to symptoms of a heart attack.

“The amount of calls we get are directly related to the size of the venue that night,” said Lt. Tony Sylvester, who is overseeing EMS operations at Riverbend for the third year. “If we have a night that draws in an older crowd, we’ll have more calls.”

On average, 10 to 15 people seek out EMS services each night, and about five Riverbend attendees in need of treatment are spotted by EMS officials while roaming the festivities, Sylvester said. “We try to stay visible. We’re everywhere out there,” he said. Since the 1980s, Lt. Greg Allen has worked many Riverbend festivals, he said.

“We see that a lot of times, people don’t drink enough water,” Allen said. “Occasionally, we’ll also see anaphylaxis (an allergic reaction).” Heat hasn’t been a major problem at this year’s cooler, soggier Riverbend, Sylvester said. “Cooler temperatures reduce the volume of calls,” he said.

The hilly terrain at Riverbend is difficult to maneuver if not wearing the proper footwear, which people rarely do at a concert series, Sylvester said.

“People like to dress up and look good,” he said. “We’ll have people come in with blisters on their feet because they’re not wearing the proper footwear.”