While Vancouver Island MusicFest is reputed for its laid back, family-oriented atmosphere, organizers remain vigilant regarding possible drug overdose situations. Terry Farrell photo

Vancouver Island MusicFest takes a vigilant approach to possible overdose situations

Dozens of MusicFest volunteers have taken naloxone training sessions offered by festival organizer

With the summer festival/concert season here, and amidst the ongoing opioid overdose crisis, Island Health has issued a “stay safe” advisory, offering tips on staying safe during such festivities.

“Many substances, such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, alprazolam (Xanax) and methamphetamines, have been contaminated by fentanyl or other toxic additives, increasing the possibility of an overdose,” Island Health stated via a press release.

RELATED: Island Health issues safer drug-use tips

Vancouver Island MusicFest executive producer Doug Cox said preparation for his festival has changed in recent years. While the atmosphere surrounding a festival such as MusicFest is not one typically associated with an abundance of hard drug use, Cox said he would be naive to think those drugs are not present. To that end, his crew has adjusted with the times.

“We have a free [naloxone] training session for any of our volunteers who want to take it,” he said. “I’ve attended one myself, and have my own kit. We have approximately 40 volunteer crews, and there is pretty much someone on every single crew that has been trained now and has their own kit. Then all our medical emergency team does, and our security team too.”

He said that while such overdose incidents are rare at MusicFest, even his family-friendly festival is not immune to the situation.

“We have had a couple of scares over the years,” said Cox. “Alcohol, and people drinking at their campsites, has been the big issue for us over the years – much more so than drug use. Yes, there’s a bunch of pot smoking going on, as there is everywhere now, but … that’s the majority of what we see at our festival. We aren’t the kind of festival that lends itself to too much [hard drug use]. So we have been very fortunate, in our years, that we have never had a major medical issue to deal with, but there’s always a few [minor ones] over the weekend.”

He commends his volunteers for their vigilance.

“We are really proud of the fact that so many of our volunteers have come out to take the training,” said Cox. “We have had a couple of different training sessions, and it’s a big responsibility. So when anybody steps up like that, to take that responsibility, that’s a good thing. We want to be as prepared as we can be.”

Vancouver Island MusicFest runs July 12-14 at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.

For details on the lineup, and tickets, visit islandmusicfest.com



terry.farrell@blackpress.ca

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