I have always been intrigued by Woodstock Music Festival and wished that I had been old enough at the time to have attended.

I have always been intrigued by Woodstock Music Festival and wished that I had been old enough at the time to have attended. While still intrigued my curiosity of the event has grown from simply wishing to be part of history, to looking at the emergency planning. When you consider even the original projections of 50,000 fans on a town less than half the size of Osage Beach, the task could seem daunting if not impossible.

The Emergency Medical Technician as we know it today was in its infant stages back in the late 60’s. This program was borne out of the 1966 National Highway Safety Act however it was not until 1971 that he first testing for the National Registry was completed.

To plan and prepare for the influx of some 50,000 attendees the festival hired William Abruzzi, MD. Dr Abruzzi proceeded to hire 18 physicians, 36 nurses and 27 medical assistants for the festival. The plan was that at least two doctors and four nurses would be on duty at all times. A make-shift triage and treatment area was setup using a 30 bed tent and several trailers. Several ambulances were contracted to transport the injured to area hospitals in town surrounding Bethel, NY.

What happened next would put this plan into jeopardy.

The day prior to the start of the festival, Dr. Abruzzi was flown over the festival sight, and to his surprise he found that the numbers had already grown, fences trampled, and ticket gates gone; there would be no way now to control the number of attendees and estimates were coming in that they could reach a half a million spectators. Ground transportation would not be easy and might not be possible as those attending simply would park their cars on the streets and walking, blocking roads in and out the festival location. With the deck seriously stacked against them, they improvised.

Doctors, nurses, and medical volunteers were flown in from across New York. Attendees at that festival with medical training offered their assistance. Helicopters originally hired to bring in artist, were also used for medical transport out of the festival in addition bringing in fresh supplies of medical equipment. A school in the nearby town of Monticello was quickly turned into a triage and staging area for the injured while a Circus Tent on sight was then transformed into a field hospital as it was closely located to the landing site for the helicopters.

In the end the improvised system treated over 3,000 victims, and saw only two deaths from the weekend. This lesson teaches me that planning is critical, but in addition to the original plan you better have a contingency plan so that when Murphy shows his ugly face, you will be ready.