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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Monitoring and Enforcement

A constructive partnership

The most effective means of ensuring a safe environment for clubbers is for club owners, event promoters and licensing officers from the local authority and the police, fire and environmental health services, to work together in a constructive partnership.

Developing a trusting relationship in which concerns and issues on all sides are aired in advance is the most effective way for licensing, police and fire officers to ensure that the public is kept safe and for licensees to protect their business(es). While licensees may be wary of raising issues relating to drugs, experienced enforcement staff will know that it is not possible for any business to operate environments in which no customers could have taken illegal drugs. They can provide the benefit of their experience to identify and address key concerns in ways which are likely to be more effective if discussed openly and honestly.

Upholding the four objectives

Nevertheless, it must be recognised that not only licensing authorities, but licence holders, managers and event promoters all have a duty to preserve public safety and meet the four licensing objectives set out at the start of this chapter.

There are still too many occasions when customer safety is put in jeopardy: ventilation is poor, air conditioning is not used, water taps are turned off, and capacity limits are ignored. In these situations, licensing authorities must take action.


It is good practice for licensing teams and their colleagues from the police, fire and health services to co-ordinate their relevant work and enforcement efforts to ensure that late night premises playing music that is attractive to people who take drugs as part of their night out, receive appropriate inspection visits. The risks of harm, and ultimately of fatalities, are highest at such premises.

It should of course be emphasised that although enforcement is the responsibility of police and fire officers, the legal responsibility for ensuring the health and safety of clubbers remains with licence holders, Designated Premises Supervisors, venue managers, festival organisers and promoters in particular.


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