Emergency Info

Guidelines on when to call the Emergency Services 999 for unwell recreational drug users

Call 999 if ANY one of the following is present:

Unconsciousness – if the patient does not respond to vocal commands, requires painful stimulus (e.g. pressure across the fingernails) to respond or does not respond at all.

Significant agitation (e.g. pacing around the room) or aggression not settling within 15 minutes.

Seizures (e.g. a convulsion similar to an epileptic fit)

Breathing difficulties such as fast breathing rate which does not settle within 15 minutes.

Heart rate over 140 beats per minute not settling within 5 minutes.

Temperature over 38.5 not settling after about 5 minutes of rest, or if very flushed and feels very hot if no thermometer is available.

Blood pressure – Systolic (“upper pressure”) over 180mmHg, or Diastolic (“lower pressure”) over 110mmHg on two repeated blood pressure measurements.

Other concerns – if there are any other concerns (e.g. severe headache, chest pain).


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How can we keep nightlife safe again?


Safer Nightlife brings together best practice on keeping people who use drugs and go out safe and makes it as simple as possible for everyone involved to know their role and responsibilities.

As readers will know, finding common ground for the professionals regulating the entertainment business and the organisations providing it and helping them to work together to ensure that as many people as possible have an enjoyable and safe time going out, is not a straightforward matter at the best of times.

The COVID-19 pandemic complicates what can be a difficult set of issues in the first place.

We are a long way from knowing when the lockdown will be lifted and, in particular, when restrictions will be removed from the night-time economy. It seems safe to assume that all places where people congregate in large numbers and in close proximity are likely to be much further down the list of businesses returning to normal.

Many owners, managers and promoters of night-time venues and festivals are currently trying to work out their options to resume operations. A straw poll among Safer Nightlife contributors has highlighted some of the main challenges ahead:

Closed Due To Coronavirus

  • How will the sector survive economically? Would it be better to reopen some venues in the nearish future, even if that runs the risk of being shut down again? Or would it be better to keep staff furloughed for as long as possible and look to re-open when chances of continuity of business are higher?
  • What will opening-day look like? Would it be better to open premises in a phased manner – but, if so, which businesses should be allowed to open first? Smaller businesses may be in a more economically fragile situation, larger ones would help restore the economy more quickly.
  • When venues do reopen, how will businesses manage if they have lost large numbers of experienced and skilled bar staff and/or door teams – especially if that skill set is particular related to keeping people who use drugs safe?
  • Will large numbers of people be tempted to overindulge in both alcohol and illegal substances once they are able to socialise again? People who have been using much less alcohol and/or drugs for a variety of reasons at home (cost and availability being the main ones) may well have lost their tolerance for consuming large amounts of substances. Indeed, many regular users of illegal substances may have changed the types of drug that they take if they have not been able to source their preferred ones. This may mean that they are less experienced at knowing what, for them as individuals, is a safe and enjoyable dose.
  • What will be the appropriate level of regulation and associated enforcement going forwards? Best practice has generally evolved over several years through a partnership approach and dialogue between local authority and police specialists and different venues. How will we get back to the situation where expectations around a range of issues – such as when to confiscate drugs and when to call the police – are clearly understood by all parties? It seems a reasonable assumption that those who have been working flat out for local authorities and police services throughout the pandemic, often dealing with extremely harrowing circumstances, will need some time to take leave and recharge their batteries.

One thing does appear certain. The need for good planning and proper training is going to be even more necessary than usual. In the UK, we are in the slightly fortunate situation that a number of other countries across Europe are likely to be opening their nightlife venues again before us. Safer Nightlife will try to track this process and bring you lessons learnt as they become apparent.

If you have concerns about the issues raised in this blog post, do please get in touch via our contact form.



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