Interview: How Hennepin EMS is preparing for Super Bowl LII

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Did you know that Hennepin Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff every home game for the Twins, Lynx, Timberwolves, MN United, and the Vikings? As seasoned experts at staffing major sporting events, Hennepin EMS staff are hard at work preparing to staff EMS and paramedic services for Super Bowl LII – before, during, and after.

We interviewed Mike LeVake, Jordan Wardell, and Charles Sloan III of Hennepin EMS for the inside scoop on how they’re getting ready, their favorite parts of staffing NFL games, and tips for all of us – local or visiting – as we rapidly approach the Super Bowl.

What are some of the most challenging moments of staffing NFL games, and what are some of the most rewarding?

Jordan Wardell: Some of the challenges fall in providing adequate coverage to the entire stadium with a limited amount of resources. It’s hard trying to weigh how many paramedics, how many emergency medical responders we need, and where we need them to provide the best coverage to everyone at the stadium…which is a sell-out, I believe, at 66,000-plus patrons.

The most rewarding thing is just seeing your plan coming to fruition, and knowing that if somebody calls for help in a certain section, you can get help to them within less than five minutes. We have paramedics in the stands to get any kind of level of care that you would need in a very short period of time.​

Mike LeVake: I tend to be on the field operations, so I stand with the paramedics on the field and the sidelines. We staff one crew with the visiting team, one crew on the home team sidelines, and then we have typically one crew in a tunnel that is a transportation truck. And if there is an injury on the field, or if there’s somebody from the stands that becomes a patient, they transport them to the hospital. We then would bring another truck in to be a transport truck until they get back.

How is the EMT/EMS team preparing for the Super Bowl? Are there any special things you are doing, or is it just like any other game?hennepin ambulance in front of us bank stadium,interview of hennepin ems preparing for super bowl, nfl games, emergency support at sporting events, paramedic services at major events, high stakes events, ems at superbowl, emergency readiness at sports events

ML: This really started last winter. This has been quite a process to build up for this.

JW: I think from the emergency medical responder and paramedic level, it will probably feel pretty similar to a normal game day aside from the fact that we will have a lot more staffing at the stadium than a typical game. However, with that being said, it’ll just be kind of business as usual for them. ​

We are not just covering the Super Bowl, though. We will also be at Super Bowl Live out at Nicollet Mall and the NFL Experience at the Convention Center. The difference with the Super Bowl is the command staff trying to figure out the logistics of how to provide the best coverage to all these places simultaneously. They’re going to do what they do every day when we’re called to treat somebody who is ill or injured. They’ll fall back on their training and do what they normally do.

ML: We also cover every home game for the Twins, Timberwolves, Lynx, Vikings, MN United, and Gopher football, and we do training pre- and mid-season with all of those agencies. So to answer your question on how we are preparing, we’ve done this many times before.

How do you stay calm in high-stakes situations like the Super Bowl?

JW: I think we’ve all been doing this long enough…I don’t want to say we’ve seen it all, done it all because it’s not like any of us have done the Super Bowl. We’re used to seeing large events…they just say to fall back on your training and that’s what we do. We encounter different problems weekly, and part of EMS is just thinking on your feet and being able to overcome whatever obstacle is in your way.

Charles Sloan: And as for dispatching…the flow of radio traffic and communication will be smoother because we will have a dedicated dispatcher at the stadium.

How do you choose who gets to work at the Super Bowl?

ML: With respect to the crews, that was just posted over time, and people signed up for it. And of course, everyone needed to be credentialed well, well in advance of the Super Bowl. Basically, it’s by seniority.

CS: There are 14 Deputy Chiefs total. So five of us will be at the game…

JW: The rest of the Deputy Chiefs will be assisting with other events like Super Bowl Live, NFL Experience, Nomadic Live, to any other events that happen to pop up.

Finally, do you have any general safety tips for spectators and people enjoying the Super Bowl and its festivities?

ML: One safety tip that I would offer would be to dress for the weather. Some of the outdoor events, like Super Bowl Live on Nicollet Mall, are held outside in February. We anticipate that local residents understand this, but we have tried to convey this message to visitors from out of town who may not be used to our Minnesotan winters. Also, enjoy yourselves, but if you see something – say something.

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