Spooky Stats: Top Calls for First Responders on Halloween

ESO Staff

Mischief in the streets. Sugar-crazed children running wild. More people out later than usual, partaking in Halloween shenanigans. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Fire responders undoubtedly have a mixture of dread and healthy respect for Halloween night. Calls you receive on any regular shift can be crazy enough, but add in costumes, parties, sugar, alcohol, and late nights, you’re bound to see the truly weird come out on October 31.

Or are you?

ESO – an Austin-based data and software company specializing in emergency medical services, fire departments, and hospital information – recently took a look at the data trends among first response impressions on Halloween night. The company tapped into its nationwide data-sharing program that aggregates stats from dozens of agencies utilizing the ESO Analytics tool.

Looking at the Primary Clinical Impression data over three years (2015, 2016, 2017) for the 24-hour period around Oct. 31, researchers pulled out the top causes for response, as well as a breakdown of demographics. For example:

  • Average number of patients in the 24-hour period: 162,655
  • Top impression across all years: Injury (representing about 12% of calls)
  • Other top impressions include generalized weakness, chest pain/discomfort, altered mental status, and acute respiratory distress

To give perspective to these stats, ESO then looked at the previous 90 days across the same three years and pulled the same data. Injury was still the top complaint, although the likelihood of an injury call was stayed around the same percentage. Hovering between 11-13%.

All in all, comparing the number and types of calls on Halloween versus non-Halloween days was surprisingly similar, meaning that perhaps the holiday has an unmerited reputation as a particularly crazy and dangerous 24 hours.

That said, it’s still a good idea to follow some best practice tips during Halloween to keep your team and your community as safe as possible. For example:

  • Identify which actions by community members can have the largest impact in your area. You can get a good idea and prepare your team by reviewing your own historic ePCR or NFIRS data for Oct. 31.
  • Brainstorm practical and easy ways community members can avoid trouble, and help promote them (like ride-sharing services and designated drivers, fire-resistant costumes, reflective tape for trick-or-treaters, checking candy before eating, buddy system for kids, etc.).
  • Decide on your message then take to every communication channel you can – like your social media accounts – leading up to Halloween. You can even schedule your posts ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about posting them each day.
  • Consider reaching out to your local media outlets for new stories or guest spots to promote holiday safety tips.
  • The most popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30-9:30 p.m. on Oct. 31 so be sure your agency is particularly vigilant on the roads during that timeframe. You’ll see more kids and families out and about than usual, causing potential risks for your drivers.

So while October 31 may not be as spooky as you thought for EMTs and fire fighters, it’s still the perfect time to promote community health and help keep those numbers low. With a little extra communication and education, you can help keep your community as safe as every other day of the year, if not safer.


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