Improving global prehospital and emergency health care, public health, and disaster health and preparedness

Mass Gathering

The Mass Gathering Special Interest Group of WADEM strives to be the organizational vehicle welcoming and representing practitioners from all countries with an intent and desire to strengthen and improve the practice and knowledge of mass gathering health.

About Mass Gatherings

A Mass Gathering (MG) has been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an occasion, either organized or spontaneous where the "number of people attending is sufficient to strain the planning and response resources of the community, city, or nation hosting the event" (WHO, 2008). These events can be planned or spontaneous, and may be as diverse as social, religious, cultural or sporting events or include the gathering of people as the result of natural disasters or conflict. Mass Gatherings present their own unique challenges to public health and other risks.

The field of mass gathering health is under constant development and in early 2012 the Executive Board (EB) of the World Health Organization requested that the Director-General further develop and disseminate multi-sectoral guidance on planning, management, evaluation and monitoring of all types of mass gathering. This is to be developed with specific emphasis on sustainable preventive measures including health education and preparedness. The EB decision has reinforced the existing WHO strategy of working closely with Member States that are planning mass gatherings and helping Member States to strengthen functional capacities to better utilize the International Health Regulations (2005) for MGs. This work is to be carried out by the WHO, its collaborating network, and the broader international public health community.

Mission, Purpose, and Goals


The proposed mission of the Mass Gathering SIG is to foster collaboration among practitioners involved in research, education, management, and practice in prehospital, emergency, public health, and/or mass gathering health care.


The purposes of the Mass Gathering SIG are to:

  • Define issues for public health and mass gathering health care;
  • Exchange scientific and professional information relevant to the practice of mass gathering health; and
  • Encourage collaborative efforts enhancing and expanding the field of mass gathering health research research.


The goals of the Mass Gathering SIG are to:

  • Develop a mass gathering declaration of cooperation;
  • Network and integrate mass gathering work into WADEM activities and programs;
  • Foster the professional growth of the members of the Mass Gathering Section;
  • Train and educate researchers on the science of mass gathering health.


Alison Hutton, PhD, RN

Dr. Hutton's work revolves around young people health promotion and harm minimisation. The philosophy underpinning her work is that by involving youth in decisions about their behaviour and life choices, they will feel supported and safe in choices that can impact on the health and their behaviour. Dr. Hutton works with non-government organizations in Adelaide such as Encounter Youth and St. John Ambulance Australia. She has authored many publications on Schoolies events and Outdoor Music Festivals as well as other publications on creating safe and supportive environments for young people in health care. Dr. Hutton is the President on the board of the Association for the Well-being of Children in Health Care a not for profit which advocates for the rights of children and young people in health care She has been highly commended for her Schoolies work by receiving a South Australian Safe Communities Award.

Jamie Ranse, RN
Chair ElectAustralia

Jamie is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Canberra. His research interests are in the area of disaster and mass gathering health. Jamie is currently completing a Doctor of Philosophy at Flinders University, where he researches the experience of Australian nurses who assist in the out-of-hospital disaster environment. He has over 40 publications in the area of disaster and mass gathering health.

Jamie is an active member of a number of national and international nursing associations. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Nursing and College of Emergency Nursing Australasia. He is currently the chair-elect of the WADEM Mass Gathering Section. Jamie has volunteered with St. John Ambulance Australia for over 20 years, previously holding the high-level national strategic position of Chief Nurse. Additionally, Jamie is an Associate Editor for the Australasian Emergency Nursing Journal, holding the disaster portfolio.

Odeda Benin-Goren, PhD, RN, CEN
Committee MemberIsrael
Dr. Benin-Goren is the Academic Coordinator of the International Emergency Management Course Ben-Gurion University in Israel. She works as an Emergency Preparedness Consultant in the Department for International Cooperation in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In this role, Dr. Benin-Goren is involved in the development of Emergency Medicine and Trauma and trains medical and nursing staff worldwide. Since 2008, she has been a United Nations Disaster and Assessment Coordination (UNDAC) expert, in the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affair (OCHA), United Nations. In this capacity, she takes part in UNDAC-OCHA activities when disasters strike.
Rowena Christiansen, BA Hons, LLB, Grad Dip Ed, MBA, MBBS, ACCAM, DCH, MEH
Committee MemberAustralia

Dr. Rowena Christiansen is a medical educator in the Melbourne Medical School and Medical Officer at Ormond College, both part of the University of Melbourne, and also works in the prehospital arena as an emergency doctor. Her medical experience includes Registrar positions in Anesthetics, Rural and Remote/Emergency Medicine, and Neonatal/Pediatrics (and some O&G training). She has undertaken post-graduate qualifications in Civil Aviation Medicine, Child Health and Emergency Health (majoring in Disaster Health and Emergency Management) and Space Studies. Rowena enjoys sharing her knowledge as a BLS, ALS, and PALS instructor. She has special interests in disaster management, prehospital and wilderness medicine, extreme environments, and aerospace medicine.

Dr. Christiansen is currently the Chair of the Australian Ski Patrol Association Medical Advisory Committee, the RACGP representative on the Australian Resuscitation Council and ANZCOR, and an independent member of the Ambulance Victoria Quality Committee. She is a member of the WADEM Oceania chapter and Disaster Metrics, EMR and Mass Gatherings sections. Dr. Christiansen is currently undertaking research related to expeditionary medicine and resuscitation science. In addition to her medical career, she also has a wealth of experience as a lawyer, management consultant, and small business owner/operator.

Malinda Steenkamp, PhD
Committee MemberAustralia

Dr. Steenkamp is currently employed by the Flinders University Torrens Resilience Institute which aims to assist Australian federal and state governments, emergency services, organizations and civil society enhance their leadership and management capabilities, and thus enable them to prepare for, and respond better to, disruptive challenges. Dr. Steenkamp’s areas of expertise include: epidemiology, public health surveillance, disaster health, mass gatherings, injury, as well as Aboriginal maternal and infant health in remote areas.

She was awarded her PhD in May 2013. Between 2003 and 2006, Dr Steenkamp was employed as a Senior Advisor and Science Officer at the Centers for Disease Control in the US where her work involved leading the establishment of a surveillance system in 17 states. In 2006, she was Head of Research at the Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs. Between 2007 and 2012, she conducted the research for her PhD which fulfilled part of a five-year research project funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Dr Steenkamp started her research career as a field worker for the South African Medical Research Council’s National Trauma Research Programme. In 1998, she moved to Australia to take up a position at the Research Centre for Injury Studies, Flinders University.