Two Takes on Working as Festival Medical Staff

March 6th, 2020

Winter Wondergrass is a 3-day bluegrass music festival that started in the mountains of Colorado, and now has stops in California and Vermont. Our EMS-Unlimited staff provides full service event medical support during its annual stop in Steamboat Springs every February, and here, we talk with two of our staff about what it’s like on the ground as festival medical staff.

Kim Weston, WEMT

What’s your EMS background, and did you decide to work events?
I started out in the ER on Oahu for two years (2014 to 2016) as a tech, and when I moved here, I worked at the long-term acute care hospital in Johnstown as a PCT for a few years. After going through Front Range’s EMT and NOLS Wilderness EMT course, I started a job at Banner Health Paramedic Services and also started doing event emergency medicine. I think the thing that motivated me the most was to utilize my training received from NOLS in a unique and fun environment. The schedule is always worth the drive for me, as I get to do something usually pretty unique in a different place. I think it has varying shifts, but with different options that fit my schedule.

What are some of the challenges of being part of a festival medical staff?
Weather, sorting out staffing supplies, setup and tear down, just to name a few. Someone needs to plan the emergency response plan amongst many other things… the list is long!

What’s the atmosphere like in the medical tent?
The team environment is great. We all work hard to support each other, and the participants of the event we’re working. Also, we put effort towards making the environment professional, but also a fun atmosphere.

Jake Ginesta, EMT

This was your first event as an EMT—what got you into emergency medicine?
I actually got my EMT here in Steamboat [Springs] at Colorado Mountain College. I’ve always just wanted to help people, and a bunch of my friends and family had always suggested I get into emergency medicine, so I finally broke down and signed up for classes. I really enjoyed going to all my classes and my clinicals, and now I’m looking forward to making a career out of it.

What were your thoughts on working as a part of the festival medical staff?
I’d never really been to any kind of festival like that, and going into it I was a little worried it would be a lot, but it was super fun and it was an awesome group to work with.

What’s it like to work an event like that and not be a spectator?
You’re there to help the people who are going to the event as spectators. I did stop in to one of the tents and bought a hat, but you’re there to support people as opposed to being a participant, which is something I enjoyed.