Medical Care at Electronic Music Festivals

Author : 6AM
April 23, 2017

Medical Care at Electronic Music Festivals

While medical care is not spotlighted much in any electronic dance music festival, this does not discount its critical importance. In fact, medical care is, and should be, a constant in events such as this and others as well.

The critical importance of medical care is all the more apparent given the unique environment present at an music festival where electronic music is focus. The fact that most attendees belong to a younger, healthier demographic and there is the danger of drugs and alcohol lurking around makes medical care in such events even more challenging. As such, it is important that the medical facilities and personnel assigned to such events are able to address the possible situations that may arise in such events.

A report was recently published in Cambridge University’s Prehospital and Disaster Medicine detailing the challenges, as well as the opportunities, of medical care in this field. This was based on the findings of the authors who spent 3 days at an EDM event in New York City on August 2014.


For the festival, there were 86 EMS providers with four nurses and two emergency medicine physicians, providing medical care to the 58,000 attendees. While 84 patients were noted to have been admitted, only six were transported to local hospitals. Four additional patients self-transported to the emergency department, and only one person ended up in the ICU. There were no deaths at the festival.

As for the cause of admission, sixty percent of patients reported alcohol or drug use. Nearly two-thirds admitted to illicit drug use, with MDMA/methylone being the most commonly reported drug. Of those admitted, almost 80 percent of patients required no medical interventions. Of the 17 patients that received an intervention, eight were given intravenous normal saline, six patients received ondansetron, three received midazolam, two received albuterol, two received ibuprofen and one patient was intubated.

The number of patients seen per 1,000 attendees was 1.45, the year prior it was 12.05. The number of patients transported to the hospital per 1,000 attendees was 0.10, the year prior it was 0.23. The authors credit these figures to extensive planning and training prior to the festival itself.


Based on the findings noted in the festival, the authors made these observations:

  • The research on the unique demographics of electronic music festivals attendees, taking both legal and illicit substances, is starting to catch up.
  • Although the typical attendee at an electronic music festival is young and healthy, its medical needs are likely exaggerated due to the high-energy levels in the crowds as well as the extensive presence of alcohol and illicit drugs.
  • Local emergency departments may benefit from on-scene emergency physicians. This is particularly true in urban environments where the experience and capacity of the local facilities likely plays a role.

The authors make the following recommendations to anyone providing medical care at an electronic music festival, as well as promoters putting on such events:

  • Develop and drill incident action plans
  • Clearly identify medical personnel
  • Provide free drinking water to attendees
  • Designate multiple access points for EMS should transport be necessary or a mass casualty incident occur
  • At a minimum, provide medical personnel with the following supplies:
    • Intravenous fluids
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Advanced airway equipment
    • Rapid sequence intubation medications



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