Music News Monday: New recommendations for music festivals from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

June 29, 2015

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) report on preventing drug-and-alcohol-related injuries and deaths at music festivals was released this month, advising music festivals organizers, security personnel, and community leaders to address four key areas in the pursuit of safe music festival experiences.

The report was put together by the CCSA, the University of British Columbia’s Mass Gathering Medicine Interest Group (UBC MGM), and several stakeholders from around North America during a two-day meeting on January 19 and 20, 2015. Representatives from Shambhala Music Festival, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Toronto Public Health, and Live Nation Canada were also present.

The four areas include event organization and design, promotion of health and reduction of harms, mass gathering medicine, and enforcement and event security.

The report’s first area, event organization and design, lists relationship building between community stakeholders and festival organizers, adequate hydration and sanitation services, and the sharing of knowledge about drug risks as target priorities that encompass communal support both in and around the music festival environment.

As for the second key area, the promotion of health and reduction of harms, target priorities include providing safe or chill spaces away from the crowd, the dissemination of non-judgmental substance abuse messaging, and a consideration for drug-testing services and other health materials such as ear plugs, syringes, and sunscreen.

The third key area, mass gathering medicine, suggests adequate medical support for predictable and non-predictable drug-related behaviour (confusion; cardiac arrest), the initiation of collaborative research/data collection aimed at improving intervention, and consistent training for all experts and medical teams both onsite and nationwide.

The final area, enforcement and event security, suggests an improved security policy framework, and the need for approaches that are adaptable based on need, resources, and urgency.

The report says the next steps for the recommendations are being implemented with the help of working groups assigned to a priority from each area.

The call for better handling of alcohol and drug-related injuries at music festivals comes after several deaths occurred at music festivals last summer, including five in Canada alone. Other fatalities outside of Canada include one at Glastonbury and another at a Mad Decent Block Party in Maryland.


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— Leyland Bradley

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About the Author

Leyland Bradley

Born in Halifax and raised in small town Alberta, Leyland is happily enjoying the big city life. When she's not writing for NMC, Leyland is either watching German movies or dreaming about running through forests.

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