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New illicit drug campaign ahead of NSW music festivals


Paul Hayes


23/01/2019 11:34:38 AM

The NSW Government has promised an increased medical presence and ‘more explicit messaging’ at music festivals over the long weekend.

Medical retrieval staff specialist at NSW Ambulance Dr Sarah Coombes and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard (left) discussing an increased medical presence at festivals. (Image: Jeremy Piper)
Medical retrieval staff specialist at NSW Ambulance Dr Sarah Coombes and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard (left) discussing an increased medical presence at festivals. (Image: Jeremy Piper)

The new campaign follows a string of drug-related music festival deaths in New South Wales in recent months.
 
‘Doctors, paramedics and a young drug overdose survivor have lent their support to this campaign, reminding people to get help quickly and [that] one pill can harm or even kill you,’ NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said.
 
‘Tragically, we have had five deaths at festivals in six months, with MDMA implicated in all of them, so we have strengthened our emergency manpower and messaging.’
 
The campaign comes in the shadow of the ongoing pill-testing debate, in which the NSW Government has remained firm in its opposition.
 
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has repeatedly said she is opposed to pill testing because she is yet to see any evidence that it would save lives and believes it will encourage people to take drugs.
 
‘What I’m saying is, do the safe thing and don’t take it because pill testing doesn’t necessarily give you the green light,’ she said earlier this week.
 
‘Even if the pill doesn’t have all these other caustic substances in there … and it’s pure ecstasy, that can still kill you, and everybody’s body is different.’

Music-festivals-article.jpgDr David Caldicott explains the logistics of pill testing and dispels what he says are common myths: ‘The idea that in some way this is encouraging drug use is a nonsense,’ he said. (Image: Jeremy Piper)
 
However, speaking at a pill-testing demonstration in Sydney yesterday, emergency medicine specialist Dr David Caldicott said the idea that the process encourages drug use is ‘nonsense’.
 
‘The first thing we say is that if you want to stay safe today from any harms associated with drug consumption, you shouldn’t use any drugs today,’ he said.
 
‘In the music festival environment, consuming something other than what you expected is a very dangerous practice.
 
‘We are not giving them any false reassurance.’
 
The NSW campaign will play across social media platforms and at music events this weekend.
 
‘If you or a friend is confused, dizzy, too hot, vomiting or has a fast heart rate, get to the medical tent fast. You won’t be punished for getting medical help,’ NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said.



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