Fla. EMS conference to implement on-site rapid PCR COVID-19 testing

Organizers say the tests will both keep attendees safe and help health officials understand how many asymptomatic people may be attending large events


By Laura French

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — An upcoming EMS conference in South Florida will implement on-site rapid PCR COVID-19 testing for attendees, which organizers say is the first implementation of this type of COVID-19 testing at a large gathering. 

The First There First Care/Gathering of Eagles Conference, scheduled for June 14-18, 2021, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., partnered with a California-based company called Floodlamp Biotechnologies to conduct the rapid tests, according to a press release. Floodlamp Biotechnologies also teamed with the Research Aid Networks and The National Science Volunteer Database to offer the testing at no cost to attendees. 

The First There First Care/Gathering of Eagles Conference will be held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. Organizers have partnered with a biotech company to provide on-site, rapid PCR COVID-19 testing at the conference.
The First There First Care/Gathering of Eagles Conference will be held at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. Organizers have partnered with a biotech company to provide on-site, rapid PCR COVID-19 testing at the conference. (Photo/jfbergeron, Pixabay)

"It is possible that someone may test positive without symptoms," said Dr. Peter Antevy, medical director for Davie Fire Rescue and a member of The Eagles organization. "The data collected from this study will allow us to gain specifics on how many potentially infected people are attending mass gatherings without being aware of their status." 

Kevin Schallert, of Floodlamp Biotechnologies, said the on-site testing will be the first to demonstrate the efficacy of surveillance monitoring for large gatherings. The conference will be held in a hybrid format, with those attending in-person offered testing on a voluntary basis. Results from the rapid PCR tests are made available within hours. 

The event will also be following the CDC guidelines for conferences. The conference, which is in its  24th year, will be held in cooperation with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and feature a combined program with the Gathering of Eagles, a worldwide organization of high-profile medical directors. 

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