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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Festival specific issues

Much of the advice in this section is relevant to festivals and events held outside. However we have assembled some of the festival-specific issues in this section for the convenience of readers.

Avoiding bottlenecks

Although it may not be immediately obvious, the problems of localised overcrowding can be just as likely on a multi-acre outdoor site as they are in the small nightclub. Organisers and licensing officers should pay particular attention to avoiding bottlenecks, particularly for initial admission to a festival site and for the main routes between popular stages, bars and toilet facilities.

Temperature control

Although festival operators cannot, of course, regulate the temperature outdoors, they should still make careful plans to ensure the safety of customers in the event of different weather conditions. A common problem is ensuring that people have access to free water and shade in high temperatures for summer events. The effects of dehydration can be particularly severe, or even fatal, for people who have consumed drugs and/or alcohol. Customers should also be advised to keep themselves hydrated and to use sun screen and wear hats to protect themselves. Operators should ensure that these items are available to purchase on site.

Contingency plans

Operators should make contingency plans to cover likely eventualities to prevent situations like that at a 2019 festival when there was a problem admitting festival goers owing to glitches with a new digital wristband/payment system. This resulted in dozens of people fainting (and several hospital admissions) when festival goers were faced with an unexpected delay in getting on to the festival site when they were standing in hot sun for several hours with no access to water.

Access to water

It is important that easy access to free drinking water is also provided at festivals. Licensing officers should ensure that organisers do not restrict free water supplies to hard to access parts of the festival site in order to protect the revenue of concessions selling beverages.


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