cosmicchild wrote:Sorry to be morbid, but I'm very curious about the death count at Burning Man each year, and it seems very hard to find real information on the subject. This year was my first Burn, and it was joyous and wonderful, and while there I heard about the death of one skydiver on the Playa. I wondered quietly how many others might be perishing within our community.
A few days before I left for my first Burning Man, I started to freak out a little bit, and one reason (of many) was about the possibility of death. I searched the internet for as much information as possible, and found only a couple of firsthand accounts and rumors of deaths experienced on the Playa. No hard numbers, and no information directly from Burning Man. From what I have read, I understand that Black Rock City does experience a few deaths of its residents each year, and the proportion to "real" cities is much lower. But if Black Rock City is a real city, even for just a week, shouldn't its residents be able to easily research these kinds of statistics?
The ticket states that we risk injury and death, and cannot hold Burning Man responsible. Of course it's a negative subject, one that can bring all the beauty of Burning Man to a screeching halt. But with all the FAQs and preparation articles that this website provides, and the disclaimer on the tickets, why does it seem like the death toll is ignored or purposely kept confidential? Should or should this not be public information?
Your short search for information does not equal a cover up.
You want what is known as the AfterBurn Report, Emergency Services Department section. Deaths on playa are recorded. Fatal injuries resulting ultimately in death are also recorded, as are all other ordinary treatments and transports at ESD Stations 3, 9 and Center Camp.
Example! (c. 2011)
http://afterburn.burningman.com/11/play ... gency.html
The entire ESD management team was pleased to welcome Humboldt General Hospital (HGH) to the playa to provide our advanced medical care at the Rampart clinic (a homage to the old EMS television series "Emergency!" from the 1970s) in 2011. For the first time, medical was equipped with laboratory, radiology, and ultrasound services. This had a positive impact on decreasing the numbers of people requiring medical transport to Reno to rule out a condition or injury.
ESD and HGH together logged 5,748 patient contacts in 2011, 1,048 (19%) more patients than in 2010, with a peak combined patient volume of 1,125 patients (25% increase over 2010) seen on Saturday, September 2. Most of these patients were walk-ins with minor medical issues.
Of the 5,748 patient contacts, 5,011 presented themselves to ESD or HGH for medical care while 737 required emergency response units from ESD and HGH to respond in the field, a 31% increase over 2010. This total averages to one EMS call in the field approximately every 20 minutes. We posit that the increase in call volume was only partially due to anticipated annual increases but also partially due to having HGH fully integrated into our dispatching system which allowed for capturing more accurate statistics than in the past.
Approximately 38% of the total patient volume involved minor injuries such as blisters or cuts. Other less common patient categories included dehydration (6.1% of total patients), orthopedic injuries (6.9%), wound rechecks (2.8%), and eye problems (5.3%). Other medical care categories included urinary tract infections (3.6%), difficulty breathing (1.2%), abdominal pain/diarrhea (2.6%), burns (2.1%), allergies/insect bites (3.3%), headaches (1.8%), and lacerations requiring sutures (2.1%). All other chief complaint categories were at or below 1%. The numbers for alcohol- and drug-related patients continue to be remarkably low for an event of this size. In 2011 ESD and HGH treated a total of 57 drug related patients (0.9%), and 85 total alcohol-related patients (1.6%). These numbers do not necessarily represent drug and/or alcohol overdoses, only patients for whom drugs or alcohol were the primary reason for seeking medical care.
Of the 33 patients transported to Reno hospitals for additional care in 2011 (a decrease of 27% from 2010), 28 were stable patients transported by ground ambulance, and 5 (a 55% decrease from 2010) were deemed critical enough to be flown out by helicopter. The decreased need to transport patients off playa can be attributed at least in part to the availability of diagnostic equipment such as lab tests, x-ray, and ultrasound on playa, services previously unavailable on playa.
Unfortunately, in a city of over 50,000 people, unwanted outcomes are inevitable. There was a single cardiac arrest but with swift intervention a return of spontaneous circulation was achieved. The patient was transported to a hospital in Reno and showed signs of having a positive outcome 24 hours later. Another participant who sought treatment for a headache was ultimately transported to Reno and diagnosed with an acute subarachnoid bleed. It was reported that the patient expired after life support was discontinued.
Search "AfterBurn" from the main Burning Man website and choose any year dating back to 2001. There will be a 2012 AfterBurn Report in a few months. If you want the heads-up when it's posted, join the Jack Rabbit Speaks
email newsletter. (Search it on the site!) If you feel like your life is lacking sufficient Burn information, and it appears that you do, I promise you that you won't regret it.