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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Prevention of overcrowding

Overcrowding has been implicated as a key factor in injuries and deaths at dance events. As a result of the fire risk assessment and consultation with the local fire service, it is usual for an overall capacity limit to be set for a pub or club.

Counting customers and staff

It is important that premises/events use a reliable method of counting the number of customers entering. Methods include electronic clocking systems, ‘clickers’ and tills. Electronic scanning database systems are now common at many venues. Customers are asked, as a condition of entry, to present ID which is scanned and verified, confirming their identity1 Some companies will check ID at point of sale in advance and just scan tickets on entry.. These systems have a number of advantages:

  • They ensure that under-age patrons are not admitted and served,
  • They accurately count the numbers of people entering the premises,
  • They may reduce incidences of disorder since any miscreants know they can be identified and,
  • Anyone who is asked to leave the premises for unacceptable behaviour can be noted on the system and banned from the premises in future.
  • There is growing evidence that ID scanning makes a significant contribution to reducing crime.

The majority of festivals sell almost all tickets online in advance and can therefore have control over attendance figures.

It is vital that all people on the premises are counted. Where guest lists or VIP passes are in operation, the number of paying customers allowed in must be adjusted accordingly.

Safe capacity

In order to assess a safe capacity for the venue, your fire risk assessment should include an evaluation of the means of escape and the number of people that can safely be accommodated. In all premises this evaluation should demonstrate that the exits are sufficient for the number of people that could be present. Safe capacities are best expressed in clear and simple terms e.g. “The maximum capacity of the premises at any one time will be restricted in respect of the ground floor to 300 persons and in respect of the first floor to 100 persons.” It is important to make sure that staff, performers (and their support staff, sound & lighting people etc.) are included in these numbers.

Avoid bottlenecks

In addition to ensuring that the overall capacity of the venue is not exceeded, it is important to ensure that localised overcrowding is avoided. It is pointless observing the capacity limit, if half the customers are squeezed into small popular areas. Care should be taken to design the venue in ways which avoid this ‘bottle-necking’.

Police and fire licensing officers often have the experience to provide helpful (and free) advice on this subject. Particular attention should be paid to bar areas, toilet and cloakroom areas, and thoroughfares, stairways and landings. This level of attention to detail is important as late night venues, where many customers may be intoxicated and unfamiliar with their surroundings, can present unique problems for an emergency evacuation.

Similar principles apply to festivals, particular for initial admission to a festival site and for the main routes between popular stages, bars and toilet facilities. Although in this case, crowd safety experts may be more helpful.


1 Some companies will check ID at point of sale in advance and just scan tickets on entry.


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