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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Alcohol- and/or drug-facilitated sexual assault

The #MeToo movement has publicised the extent of sexual harassment and assault across all of society and the 2019 Global Drug Survey1 asked its more than 120,000 respondents about being taken advantage of sexually while intoxicated.

A deeply troubling 14% survey respondents said this had happened to them. Of those who had been taken sexual advantage of in the 12 months prior to completing the survey, more than two thirds (69%) identified as women, 28% as men and 3% as non-binary or a different gender identity.

Official figures

The numbers of people who are sexually taken advantage of while intoxicated through alcohol and/or drugs are considerable. The most recent official data1 reports that 38% victims of rape or assault by penetration reported that their offender(s) were under the influence of alcohol. The same proportion of victims (38%) said they were under the influence of alcohol themselves. The same official data reveals that victims reported that the offender was under the influence of drugs (8%) and that they themselves were under the influence of drugs they had chosen to take (2%).

Drug-facilitated sexual assaults

Many substances, including alcohol, benzodiazepines, and GHB/GBL, may cause temporary amnesia. While the scale of drug-facilitated sexual assaults is very unclear – some studies suggest that the problem is over-exaggerated, others that it is under-reported – it is clear that such assaults do take place regularly. Indeed, the same official data1 quoted above reports that 6% of rape victims reported that they thought that the offender had drugged them with the proportion rising to 17% when the offender was a stranger.

For this reason venues are asked to display information about the risks of alcohol- or drug-facilitated sexual assault. They should also allow customers to keep their drinks with them, including in toilet areas if so desired and/or encourage customers to monitor their friends drinks when they are elsewhere.
All staff should be trained to look out for suspicious behaviour and seek to offer help and support to anyone about whom they have concerns.

Regular liaison with local police officers is encouraged so that venues can be promptly informed about any particular concerns around the risk of drug-facilitated sexual assault.

Duty of care

Operators are increasingly expected to take a proactive approach to safeguarding customers from sexual harassment and violence. There are three main strands to a safeguarding strategy: providing easy access to help and support; encouraging people who have been victim of sexual aggression to report this and sending clear messages to potential offenders that sexual harassment will not be tolerated and that all customers have a responsibility to challenge offensive behaviour among their social group.

It is important to train staff to be able to respond to customers who are experiencing unwanted attention. One such initiative is the Ask for Angela campaign which encourages customers who feel unsafe or threatened to talk to a member of staff and “Ask for Angela”, a codeword understood by staff who will contact security on the customer’s behalf. Posters giving information about the scheme are displayed in the toilets.


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