While the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers go head-to-head on Super Bowl Sunday, some fans could head to the emergency room instead … and area essential hospitals will be ready for them.

America’s Essential Hospitals member Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) in San Jose has the closest comprehensive emergency department (ED) to Santa Clara, the host city for this year’s Super Bowl.

SCVMC has been working with the Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services Agency and Public Health Department, as well as other area hospitals, to prepare for the influx of tens of thousands of fans this weekend. The hospital also is prepared for larger threats — such as terrorist attacks — that might occur in a large gathering like the Super Bowl. SCVMC in the past year has conducted emergency exercises and training on decontamination, and several of the hospital’s leaders and employees attended Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) training on emergency management and incident command, among other things.

Joy Alexiou, public information officer for SCVMC, says, “With a large number of visitors coming into our community, we are ready to handle more ambulances, more walk-ins and more people with more routine needs, like filling a forgotten prescription.”

In addition, SCVMC and other area hospitals have set up incident command centers to better coordinate medical services for standard ED care, as well as large-scale events, such as terrorist attacks. All of this training will ensure that San Jose residents and visiting football fans have access to essential care both this weekend and beyond.

“The trainings and exercises we held make us better prepared to respond to a variety of emergencies or disasters,” Alexiou says. “While scenarios change, the work that goes into being ready helps us learn and make changes so that we are even better prepared in the future. The meetings, classes, trainings and exercises helped us improve, and this work benefits our employees, our organization, and the community we serve.”

Hometowns Prepare

Back in Denver and Charlotte, N.C., member hospitals have prepared for the big game, too, even though they and hometown fans are far removed from the game site.

Kelli Christensen, a spokesperson for Denver Health Medical Center (DHMC), says, “If the Broncos win this year, we anticipate a high volume of people celebrating on the streets of downtown.”

When the Broncos won the Super Bowl in 1999, as well as when the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 2002, DHMC saw an uptick in injuries related to alcohol, car accidents, and other “poor decision-making,” according to Christensen.

Ahead of the game on Sunday, she says the hospital’s ED will be fully staffed and extra paramedic crews will be standing by to provide additional support. Christensen notes that the health system, which is a level I trauma center for adults and a level II trauma center for children, is “prepared to manage all types of injuries and medical emergencies” on a daily basis.

Likewise, while CaroMont Health — just outside of Charlotte—is not taking any additional precautions ahead of Sunday’s game, Director of Public Affairs Kimberly Sain says the health system is “in a constant state of readiness to address all emergency situations.”