The provision of medical, paramedical and first aid services at major public events is an important concern for pre-hospital emergency medical care providers. Patient outcomes of a cardiac arrest response strategy employed at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the Shrine of Remembrance by St John Ambulance Australia volunteers are reported. Twenty-eight consecutive events occurring between December 1989 and December 1997 have been analysed. Included are three cardiac arrests managed at ANZAC day parades utilising the same response strategy by the same unit. The incidence of cardiac arrest at the MCG was 1:500000 attendances. Of the 28 patients, 24 (86%) left the venue alive and 20 (71%) were discharged home from hospital. In all cases the initial rhythm was ventricular fibrillation (VF). All 26 patients (93%) who were defibrillated by St John teams had this intervention within 5 min from the documented time of collapse. One patient in VF spontaneously reverted during CPR. Of the eight fatalities, four died at the scene. At major public venues and events, a co-ordinated emergency life support provision strategy, tailor made for the venue, is necessary for the delivery of prompt CPR, timely defibrillation and advanced life support.