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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Illegal raves proliferate

It is no surprise that some people have finally had enough of lockdown and want to start going out again.

From illegal block parties and outdoor raves in London, Manchester and many other cities to big events in Lisbon, Berlin and Nantes and other places in Europe, a small but significant number of party goers have not been able to resist partying at a time of year when they would normally be going to a whole range of events and festivals.

While some of these events have been large scale happenings which clearly got out of control and resulted in confrontations with police trying to restore order and re-impose the requirements of lockdown , there have been many other house parties and smaller events in warehouses and other venues which have not been featured in the media. While escapism from lockdown and the pandemic is obviously part of the reason for people attending these happenings, other event goers have talked about how the rave community is their main support network and they have struggled with lockdown without being able to be together with like-minded individuals. What all these events have in common is an acknowledgement by participants that once people have taken drink or drugs and become fully involved in music and dancing again, social distancing guidelines are soon ignored.

With many lockdown restrictions being lifted but the official nighttime economy still shut, it seems inevitable that these sorts of illegal raves and other events will become increasingly common over the summer.

Of course it is unlikely that all the safer nightlife policies and practices highlighted on the pages of this site will be adopted by such illegal events. We have seem great improvements in drug and alcohol harm reduction practices in the night-time economy with pubs, clubs and festivals taking greater responsibility for their customers’ wellbeing. Onsite drug testing, festival welfare, well-trained medical staff and prompt information about high-strength or snide tablets have all contributed to making the UK’s growing festival scene safer. The best examples of this sort of best practice have normally stemmed from genuine partnerships between promoters, police and welfare services.

This sort of harm reduction approach is unlikely to translate well to illegal events which are often organised online with the final location only announced at the last minute, making proper organisation almost impossible. It appears that drug supply routes have adapted to the global pandemic and people going to these events are unlikely to find it difficult to buy their usual substances of choice.

It will be important for anyone choosing to attend these events to take responsibility for the welfare of both themselves and others in terms both of their vulnerability to contracting coronavirus and all the usual risks associated with drink, drugs and a night out. It is highly unlikely that those organising these events will be proactively looking out for the welfare of participants or calling ambulance services in medical emergencies.

We have already seen fatalities. In Oldham, Greater Manchester, 4,000 people attended a so-called quarantine rave in Daisy Nook Country Park where a 20-year-old man died of a suspected drug overdose. Across town in Carrington, a further 2,000 revellers gathered on waste ground where a woman was raped and three people were reportedly stabbed.

The sooner we find a safe way of opening the night-time economy, the better it will be for both the industry and its customers.



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