Why paramedics ‘dread’ call-outs to music festivals
YOUNG paramedics scarred by treating revellers who are "completely off their head" on drugs say it's ruined the music festival experience for them.
And some actively "dread" getting called out to festivals on shift because they're sick of watching "kids taking their lives for a good time".
NSW Ambulance intensive care paramedic Chenea Roles said: "You know it's never going to be a good call when it's a festival call".
"You just get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach," the 30-year-old emergency worker said.
"We see it from that professional working side where we're picking up these young kids and they're completely off their head."
Ms Roles said "a lot of paramedics" in the 25-35 age bracket "don't want to go to festivals now" in their free time either.
"It's completely turned us off it," she said.
"It's all about who can get as out of their minds on drugs and it doesn't appeal to me to go somewhere where people can't have fun organically anymore."
Ms Roles said there were now specialised crews of paramedics who attended music festivals due to the increasing number of incidents.
"We've been finding we need to have medical crews on site because there's the demand for it," she said.
But despite having a dedicated team of emergency workers, Ms Roles said the "stigma" associated with taking drugs can prevent revellers from asking for help and have deadly consequences.
"If people are taking drugs and they are feeling unwell they think they can't say anything if they don't feel right," she said.
"They don't say, I don't feel well or I need to sit down or I need some water - I think people need to understand if you're not feeling well there's always medical teams available.
"We say to people, just tell us what happened - you need to let us do our job."
SW Poisons Information Centre toxicologist Professor Andrew Dawson said: "The toxicity we've been seeing is virtually all people have been taking multiple tablets".
Mr Dawson also said the spike in festival deaths could partly be attributed to the hot weather.
He said chemicals released from drug such as MDMA "interfere" with the thermostat of the brain which regulates body temperature.
In hot weather, the situation is exacerbated.
"The stresses we're seeing this summer is people out in festivals with higher ambient temperatures," he said.
"We have this situation where people generate extra heat and their thermostat isn't working properly and their body doesn't cool properly.
"By the time you get to 42C you're effectively damaging your cells - that's the temperature egg whites start to cook at."