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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New crackdown on illegal gatherings

It is hard to know how we will look back at the Summer of 2020 in terms of the ongoing battle against the coronavirus. The number of infections is rising again with a number of localities facing different levels of lockdown. The positives seem to be that the UK infection rate appears to be lower than many of our neighbours and that the number of people being hospitalised is much lower than in the terrible days of Spring.

It appears that the combination of rising infection rates but continuing low levels of hospitalisation is attributable to the fact that a high proportion of people with the virus at the moment are young adults who rarely suffer from serious symptoms. The concern for the government is of course that these young adults will transmit the virus to older, more vulnerable individuals.

It may be that this is the rationale for the Government’s decision to introduce a new criminal offence for people organising or facilitating unlawful gatherings which comes into force on Friday 28 August 2020 — deliberately timed to be in place before the last Bank Holiday of the summer.

Those facilitating or organising illegal raves, unlicensed music events, or any other unlawful gathering of 30 people or more may face a £10,000 fine – placing a new deterrent on the breaches that put the public most at risk.

Fines of £100 can continue to be issued to those who participate in illegal gatherings and those who have already received a fine will see the amount of doubled on each offence, up to a maximum of £3,200.

It comes as the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) warned police forces in England and Wales will continue to increase patrols to prevent illegal gatherings during the pandemic heading into the bank holiday weekend.

In areas of concern – such as Leicester and Greater Manchester – deployments have already been larger than on New Year’s Eve.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Unlicensed Music Events, Commander Ade Adelekan, responded to the new legislation:

We welcome this further deterrent against those who irresponsibly put people’s health and safety at risk by organising these events. Unlicensed music events are unlawful and unregulated. These events are hosted without regard for the safety of those attending, and police have observed cases of anti-social behaviour, sales of drugs and gang activity.

It is vital that forces obtain information about any illegal events at the earliest opportunity. As organisers are able to spread the word about these events quickly online, timely information about suspicious activity or plans enables forces to plan ahead and take effective action against them.

To the organisers of this sort of activity, I strongly advise that you seriously consider the risks you’re creating for everyone in attendance and the wider community. There is a risk of prosecution for those who organise these events and equipment will be seized.

The Home Office says that the Metropolitan Police has responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed events since the end of June, receiving information on more than 200 events across the city in a single weekend. Similarly, the BBC reported today (23 August 2020) that last night officers in Birmingham disrupted more than 70 unlicensed social gatherings including house and street parties, one of which featured marquees and a DJ. Similar stories feature in local media all around the country including in places like Blackburn, currently under additional lockdown restrictions.

Aside from the risk of spreading the virus, the Home Office also drew attention to the fact that many illegal events may be linked to criminality and some are marred by violence. This week two teenagers were stabbed at a warehouse rave in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.

As always, there are additional risks of all sorts at unlicensed events with organisers and customers alike often more reticent to call for emergency medical help for any drug- or health-related issue.

Update 7 September 2020

The Guardian has revealed that Leeds City Council issued seven of the £10,000 fines to organisers of illegal raves on the first weekend (August Bank Holiday) that it was possible to do so with Council Leader Judith Blake urging young people to take their share of responsibility in not transmitting coronavirus.


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