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Colo. paramedics, EMTs face thousands of visitors during rodeo event

EMS crews stand ready for any call from the 250,000 visitors a year attending the Greeley Stampede


Greeley Stampede/Facebook

By Morgan McKenzie
Greeley Tribune

GREELEY, Colo. — The Greeley Stampede brings in an average of 250,000 visitors a year, and with that large influx of visitors comes an expected risk of medical problems and health scares.

To meet the medical needs of the 13-day event’s crowds, Banner Health paramedics and emergency medical technicians provide on-site medical services at the Stampede.

Andrea Tillinghast, assistant chief and EMT with Global Medical Response — a medical transportation company and contractor for Banner — has seen it all at the Stampede from injured rodeo contestants to visitors with severe dehydration.

The event’s size can present challenges for first responders, but attendees can help make first responders’ jobs easier and keep everyone safer with a little preparation.

Heat is the main cause of medical events during the Stampede, especially as temperatures have reached 100 degrees or more in the past. Global Medical Response EMT Yvette Tapia said dehydration is the biggest medical issue faced at the event.

Preparing for the Stampede is as simple as drinking water and applying sunscreen, according to Tapia. She urges attendees to continue staying hydrated throughout their time on the event grounds.

Visitors should also wear proper clothing based on the weather and bring an umbrella in case of severe weather.

“If you’re going to a concert or you’re going to be hanging out there for the day, just prepare yourself,” Tapia said.

Attendees can bring up to a 20-ounce sealed water bottle or one empty non-glass water bottle that can be filled inside the event. The Stampede will also have sunscreen stations throughout the day for visitors to apply and reapply sunscreen.

In addition to helping with emergencies, first responders can help direct people to first aid or sunscreen stands.

How, where to get help

An EMT and a paramedic patrol the Stampede grounds on a green cart, as the Banner Health Gator crew. Tapia said the Gator crew has everything that could save somebody’s life — from band-aids to equipment for heart attacks.

People can find the Gator crew traveling around the area, checking on people or parking somewhere visible to attendees, according to Tapia. If the Stampede is busier than usual, the crew generally parks in the central area of the full event grounds to better respond when emergencies arise.

Inside the arena, another set of first responders is prepared to provide aid. The Stampede also has a fire crew including a paramedic, EMT and two firefighters, as well as law enforcement from the Greeley Police Department and the Weld County Sheriff’s Office.

When emergencies happen, security usually calls the first responders via radio, who then head to the incident as quickly as possible. In some cases, the Gator crew responds to the medical emergency before people even call for help because the first responders are constantly moving, Tapia said.

Because crews have so much ground together, response times depend on how busy the Stampede is, Tapia explained. But in most cases, it takes about one to two minutes to respond to emergencies, she said.

“If you see us zooming around on the Gator with our lights on and blaring our siren, please move aside,” Tapia said.

Tapia wants everyone to know first responders are at the family-friendly event to ensure safety so everyone can have fun and make memories. She encourages attendees to reach out to first responders for help and said they’re always available when needed.

“I want them to know that we’re there to help them if something comes up,” she said. “We just want everybody to have a good time.”

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