Earlier this week we reported on the tragic deaths at Adelaide Stereosonic, which saw 20 overdoses despite increased security measures, and multiple warnings by event organizers.

Over the past two weeks, Stereosonic has been rocked by drug controversies at multiple stops along the 5-stop festival leading to multiple arrests, hospitalizations, and renewed discussion into the real problem at hand – how can we create a safer environment at festivals?

Emergency physician and drug expert, Dr. David Caldicott, describes the current situation as “the most dangerous season we’ve ever seen in Australia,” adding that “there is a diversity of products on the market that not even drug nerds like myself know about.” His suggestion? To make pill tests at music festivals widely and readily available to the general public.

While this idea might seem one well-suited in theory, but rather unlikely to ever be put into practice, Dr. Caldicott cites Switzerland as an example of where this is currently being done to good effect. “For example, in Zurich they bring a shipping container of forensic equipment to Europe’s largest rave … and allow people to come and submit their product for testing.”

While Dr. Caldicott may be right that festivals need to provide a safer environment to their participants by allowing for pill testing, people need to take personal responsibility for themselves as well. Striking that delicate balance between festival goers being more responsible and festivals being more receptive to working towards creating a safer environment for everybody may be what’s required to prevent more tragic deaths from happening further down the road.

Festivals that see zero deaths are becoming the minority, and that is not okay. When you get to a point that you say “only one person died,” that is not okay. When you have to implement sniffer dogs, tighter security, age restrictions, curfews, DUI checkpoints, and increased security in the venue, that is also not okay, and it shows a (perhaps valid) degree of mistrust in attendees.

Australia is in the middle of what could be considered an ecstasy epidemic, but of course, not all of it is even really MDMA. Pill testing allows for patrons and the venue to be able to test the purity and contents of consumables, at least to a certain degree, and that promotes education and awareness – both of which will hopefully lead to safer festivals.

“Personal responsibility” is a large factor in avoiding festival deaths, but festivals must be aware that stupid people do exist, and do something about it.


H/T: Examiner Press