Your processes

What will you do to prevent problems from drugs at your event?

This section will expand upon the previous sections and focuses on identifying what you will do. Keep revisiting your risk profile to identify the actions you will take to prevent and reduce problems from drugs. 

Discuss these things with your event team and write what you agree on in your drug management plan or other event plans. 

The risk profile of drugs at events needs to be more than just a section in the event operations plan. With Fan Safety at the planning forefront of all successful events, the actions points to prevent/reduce problems from drugs need to be a visible process that is recorded in real time.

 -Ashley Quensell, EVANZ Board Member, General Manager of National Operations at P4G.

 

The safety of participants has to be as important as any other aspect of the event, if not more so. The time spent to make that a reality is in my mind a huge success factor and a key ingredient for a successful event.

- Andy Gollings, CEO of Red Badge Group

Aim to have clear communication with your event team and the services providers before and during your event. Let them know in advance what your approach to prevent and reduce problems from drugs is. This could be done through your regular event team meetings, and you may want to consider involving service providers (eg, ambulance, crowd care) so they can share what they see and help with actions. 

Ensure you have the right technology to communicate in real-time at the event, and make sure everyone knows what platform you will use. You might want to have a contingency plan if these don’t work on the day. 

The event goes well when all the stakeholders are on the same page and the event team communicates their intentions to customers clearly. We’ve had a number of positive outcomes across the country, especially when all stakeholders are singing off the same song sheet and working towards the same common goals.

- Andy Gollings, CEO of Red Badge Group

Consider: 

  • Who will hold leadership and decision-making responsibilities throughout the event. This is likely to be done in shifts and you will need to consider how people will know who is in charge at different times. 
  • How you will share your risk profile and management plan. This should include everyone using the same map of the event with grids to communicate where to go easily. 
  • Using the timetable of the event to identify hotspots and prepare briefings in advance to make sure everyone receives the information they need. 
  • Increasing the frequency of event team meetings to reflect the timing of the hotspots. 

In terms of event roles and internal communications, let’s take the lessons and learnings from the Manchester Arena Bombing Inquiry Report which illustrated the significant importance of understanding the roles of key stakeholders, service suppliers, and emergency agencies, as well clear lines of effective communication. Get the event recipe right with transparency, clarity, and agreement.

 -Ashley Quensell, EVANZ Board Member, General Manager of National Operations at P4G.

You will likely have a lot of plans already about how to manage the flow in and out of your event – while showcasing the vibe of your event. Drugs are likely to only be a small part of that. 

Check that the security presence at your event doesn’t have unintended consequences. For example, some people may panic when they see things like drug dogs or other people getting intensively searched, and choose to take all of their drugs at once rather than risk getting caught. This increases their risk of overdose and needing medical attention. 

The New Zealand Security Association has Good Practice Guidelines that can help you plan your entry processes. 

Consider: 

  • Agreeing with police what the threshold for contacting them is. This could be triggered by the amount of drugs found, or identification of someone suspected of doing illegal activity. 
  • What you will do if someone is denied entry to your event. Does this change if they are intoxicated? 
  • Providing amnesty and sharp disposal bins at entry points and throughout the event. You may want to speak with police or ESR to agree on what happens with amnesty bins after the event.
  • What your process is if drugs are confiscated by staff at the event. A secure drop-box with a robust process to record where it was found and what has been placed in the box can be useful. Agree with police what happens to the contents of the secure drop-box after the event. 

When you have entry procedures and searching, there is a good chance that people in your team will come across drugs or drug utensils. Consider who will be most likely to come across drugs and how you will respond if they are found at your event.  

First, think about:  

  • Who are the people most likely to be finding these substances? 
  • How will you dispose of substances (eg, amnesty and sharps bins)? 
    • What happens with amnesty and sharps bins after the event? Who handles these? 
    • How can you communicate your safe recording and dropping off of confiscated drugs to your security team? How will you audit this process to make sure it is working? 

You may also want to consider what the processes might be for some of the main issues with drug confiscation. Talk through some solutions with your team using these prompts:  

  • How do you deal with suspected or known drug dealers onsite? 
  • What are your processes if someone is found with drugs on them? 

You explored the site layout in the previous section and may have already made changes to your layout to remove areas of risk. Identify areas in your site layout where you cannot remove risk and make sure that you have sufficient resourcing to minimize risk in those areas. Carparks and weaker areas of the perimeter are often places that need extra attention, such as restricting the time that people can be in those places or increasing security. 

Ensure that you have crowd flow pathways for people to get out of crowded areas if they are feeling overwhelmed or for them to receive medical support quickly. 

Lower stimulus/chill out spaces can help people to feel less overwhelmed. They can also be places where patron welfare personnel can talk with a person to check how they are going and provide support if needed. This can de-escalate situations and reduce the risk of medical or social incidents.  

There is a suggested layout of a staged chill-out zone in Te Hiringa Hauora's Guidelines for Patron Welfare at Large Events.

Eyes on the ground is really huge...Having a really well-structured crowd care area for people so that they get the care they need, are triaged, and there’s a process for what happens to them after. One of the things that often falls over is what is done with people after they come into crowd care.

- Mark Gosling, EVANZ Chairman, CEO of Trusts Arena

Consider: 

  • Whether you want to monitor where people are throughout the event. 
  • Whether there are enough places for people to get warm, cool down, get hydrated, and get fed as needed. Temperature, hydration, and nutrition affect what a person experiences from drug use and whether they may need medical attention or not. 

Providing shade, sunscreen, water, and places to take a break from dancing can help attendees to cool down, stay hydrated, and avoid the risk of heat exhaustion. Misting stations, air conditioning, and industrial fans can also help. Some drugs affect a person’s ability to regulate their temperature, making them more susceptible to dangerous levels of overheating or being too cold. Te Hiringa Hauora’s Guidelines for Patron Welfare at Large Events recommends: 

  • At least two litres of free drinking water per person at single day events. 
  • At least 20 litres of water per person (4 litres for drinking), per day, at multi day events. 
  • At least one clearly identifiable water outlet per 500 people. 

Alcohol makes people dehydrated and more susceptible to hypothermia when it is cold. Wet clothes from sweating while dancing will also make a person colder. Warm places to shelter from cold winds, heating, and the provision of warm food/drink can help people to keep warm. 

Issues may arise when people leave and re-enter your event. These are often times when there are less staff on the entry and exit points. 

Consider: 

  • Having set times when people can leave or reenter the event. 
  • Having a check out process where people who appear too intoxicated or distressed are supported on-site until they are ok to leave. 
  • Being clear about the conditions of exit and reentry before and during the event. 

Monitoring the crowd, identifying hotspots, and responding quickly to de-escalate concerns is part of the bread and butter of events.

One of the events we have worked with for a number of years has always been harm reduction focused, but always struggled with hospitalisations. One year, as well as introducing drug checking, they also got in the services of psychedelic first aid. The event connected both services with site medical staff and security staff. It was a joined-up network of people focused on reducing harm, and everyone could feed into that network. As far as I know – that event has had no hospitalisations since.

- Wendy Allison, Managing Director of KnowYourStuffNZ

Consider: 

  • What kinds of crowd care you will use. Some examples are:
    • Roaming support - these could be people walking through the crowd to tell people what support is available, identify people who might need support, and share information (eg, a concerning drug that was detected leading up to the event).
    • Peer support - these are similar to roaming supporters, but are more visible as welfare support. They could also provide supplies like water, sunscreen, and earplugs.
    • Peer educators - these people spend more time with attendees to hear their concerns and provide them with information and support. They may also screen for issues and provide brief interventions.
  • How you can make the support appear to be a seamless part of the event experience. Roaming supporters could be vibe checkers who both provide support and help people get into the vibe of the event.
  • When do you need to collect information about who is accessing support? There is an example data collection form and suggestions on when to use it in Te Hiringa Hauora's Guidelines for Patron Welfare at Large Events.
  • Having a clear process for how to escalate patrons between crowd care services (eg, from a chill out space to the medics).
  • How you will ensure that your crowd care staff are trained and can represent the atmosphere of your event. There are suggestions for recruitment and orientation in Te Hiringa Hauora's Guidelines for Patron Welfare at Large Events.
  • These are example crowd care services that can complement each other and prevent a wide range of harms. For example: 
    • Chill out spaces. 
    • Medics/ambulance. 
    • Trip sitters/DeepSpace (Places where people using drugs can go if they are having a negative experience that can be managed through social support). 
    • Drug checking (see below) and other harm reduction services. 
    • Mental health services.
    • Sexual assault/violence/safety services.  
    • Intoxication management.
    • Free water, available food for different dietary requirements, phone charging areas, lost and found.
    • Vibe checkers (people or services that are actively walking around the event and engaging with people to see if they are doing OK or need extra support).
    • Volunteers.
    • Police and security.

Even with a large amount of planning, incidents will still happen. Preparing your event team to respond quickly, and actively monitoring your event will mean that you can get on top of incidents before they escalate. After working through this template, check your incident management processes to ensure they are fit for purpose – drug-related incidents are likely to require the same management and medical responses as other incidents. 

Consider: 

  • Who is involved in an incident from when it’s detected to when it’s resolved?   
  • How are incidents reported and in what timeframe?  
  • What additional support could be provided to the people that are affected? 
  • How do you manage communications about the incident (eg, media, patrons, police, and family)?  
  • When do you need to provide updates to your staff about the incident? 
  • What do you need to communicate to the patrons about the incident to prevent further harm?

Security Response Teams need to be fit for purpose too. They must understand their roles and functions across all different types of possible drug scenarios and incidences. Instructions and communications need to be clear and reporting needs to be timely and accurate.

 -Ashley Quensell, EVANZ Board Member, General Manager of National Operations at P4G.

If people use substances that contain opioids like fentanyl, they may unintentionally overdose. Training your staff to identify the signs of an opioid overdose can help ensure people receive immediate, life-saving medical treatment. 

How to spot an opioid overdose. If you notice someone who: Is not completely awake or is totally unresponsive, and is breathing slowly or not at all (they may be snoring), and has 'pinpoint' pupils. Then immediately phone 111 and follow the instructions from the emergency call-taker. Visit thelevel.org.nz for more information.

These A5 flyers can be ordered for free from TheLevel.org.nz

How you resource your event will depend on many factors - your risk profile, your budget, the size of the event and the environment. Onsite medical care is the first point of intervention for people who are experiencing negative effects or overdoses from drugs. Ensuring this is properly set up and resourced is important to reducing the likelihood of having serious harm events occur.  

Remember that your medical services provider should be compliant with the New Zealand Ambulance Standard S8156:2019, this includes a section on requirements when delivering medical services at large gatherings. 

There is a flowchart outlining a suggestion of how to assess patrons and transfer them to and from the medical service in Te Hiringa Hauora's Guidelines for Patron Welfare at Large Events.

Consider this when resourcing and planning the medical care at your event: 

  • You will need medical care for a variety of different incidents. What services will respond to these three ‘tiers’ of incident?  
    • Minor drug-related incidents and intoxication: Where someone is not experiencing an overdose or acute psychological symptoms, but might be feeling a little unwell, overwhelmed, or anxious. This may also include minor injuries as a result of intoxication such as grazes or scrapes.  
    • Non-life-threatening overdose or intoxication: Where someone is experiencing physiological and/or psychological symptoms of an acute overdose but is not in critical condition. This could include things like dehydration, vomiting, agitation, paranoia, rapid heart rate, hallucinations, difficulty staying awake, insomnia, increased BP or disorientation.  
    • Critical incidents: Where someone is experiencing physiological and/or psychological symptoms of an acute drug overdose and are at risk of serious harm to themselves (or others in the case of psychosis, aggression, delirium). Critical incidents are life-threatening and involve relocating someone to emergency care.  

You may also consider some of the following questions when it comes to reviewing your medical services: 

  • At what points in your process will you review new information about your harm profile and incorporate this into your resourcing? 
  • How will everyone communicate - how will medical services know when to respond and where to go? 
  • How will other services communicate to medical services to prepare them for possible incidents? 

Some festivals may have drug checking services onsite as a harm reduction measure. These services can help reduce harm from people taking drugs that are something different than they have been sold as and give people more information about how to use safely.

It's awesome that we've finally got there with legalisation of drug checking on site. A lot of us have wanted to do it for a long time. In collaboration with that, knowing in advance what’s around (drug types, quality and strength) is really huge.

- Mark Gosling, EVANZ Chairman, CEO of Trusts Arena

Consider:

  • How will you communicate what is found by a drug checking service with your event attendees (eg, a dangerous pill that may be going around the event)?  
  • How will drug checking findings be communicated between services? 
  • How will drug checking findings be communicated between events?
  • How will you communicate with attendees that drugs are not allowed on-site and that there will be drug checking services on-site?  
  • How will you mitigate expectations around drug checking (eg, they can only test X number of samples per day)?  
  • How will you manage people waiting for drug checking services in the sun and heat?  
  • How could other crowd care services complement the drug checking? Is it more effective to have these services close together? 

Now that you have created most of your drug management plan, discuss what some of the unintended consequences may be with your event team. For example, intimidating security searches for drugs throughout the whole event can make people panic and consume all their drugs at once. Another example is locating water, chill out spaces, or peer wellbeing supporters right next to an exit or security – meaning people may avoid them if they think they will appear too intoxicated or will be asked to leave the event. 

Update your plan as needed to avoid these unintended consequences. You may decide to keep your plan the same, but monitor what happens so you can learn for future events.

The experience of the customers is at the forefront of our minds when we are delivering our service. We ensure that interacting with security is a largely positive experience rather than something that needs to be avoided. It also means we are someone that people can go to for support.

- Andy Gollings, CEO of Red Badge Group