Renewed calls for pill testing after nine people were rushed to hospital at Hardmission festival

photo of the dancefloor at Hardmission Festival

There are renewed calls for pill testing in Victoria after nine people were left fighting for life from a suspected drug overdose at Melbourne’s Hardmission Festival on the weekend. 

The incident happened on Saturday night when thousands of partygoers converged on Flemington Racecourse for the popular ‘Hardstyle’ electronic music event. 

Nine revellers were rushed to hospital in critical conditions after suffering suspected drug overdoses or reactions to party drug methylenedioxyphenethylamine, also known as MDMA.

Some attendees had to be placed into induced comas by paramedics, while emergency doctors provided intubation to patients. 

The horror scenes have reignited debate about whether the Victorian government should introduce pill testing, which is already being trialled in Queensland and the ACT.

According to news.com.au, attendees had taken to social media over the weekend to complain of “overcrowding” amid 32 degree heat.

This was the latest reporting from 9 News Australia:

Victorian Ambulance Union Secretary Danny Hill told SkyNews.com.au the VAU supported pill testing as a more preventative approach needed to be taken in the wake of what happened at Hardmission.

He confirmed seven of the nine people were so critically ill they had to be placed into induced comas by Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance Paramedics.

Mr Hill emphasised the “enormous drain” it put on ambulance resources when responding to such a large number of critically ill patients as seen at Saturday’s event. 

“It’s the equivalent of a mass casualty event,” he said, adding the pressure on paramedics would be comparable to a large traffic accident. 

Mr Hill said pill testing at festivals could help inform people about dangerous combinations of chemicals, but acknowledged it may not work in every scenario.

“Eight really critically unwell people in such a small space of time is fairly unheard of,” he added.

photo showing MDMA caps
Photo showing a ”cap” containing MDMA

Mr Hill spoke more to Seven’s Sunrise on Monday morning about the festival hospitalisations, noting a lot needs to be done to prepare for an event like Hardmission. 

“As I understand it, it was quite hot. There was a lot of heat there. These drugs are obviously doing the rounds,” he said.

He highlighted party drugs were often not just made in small batches, but by the thousands. 

“We had emergency doctors on scene who were providing intubation for patients on scene but they were overwhelmed and had to call in MICA paramedics to assist with care that is normally done within an energy department,” he said. 

He reiterated the importance of education around drugs, adding there were many more festivals in the pipeline for Victoria in 2024.  

“It can only help to have the right information out there, the ability for someone to check if this drug is a deadly variant,” he said. 

The Victorian Greens have been pushing for pill testing, which former premier Daniel Andrews ruled out introducing after Queensland became the first state to adopt the approach. 

Article credit: SkyNew.com.au. Header image: Hardmission Festival.

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