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In this section, you and your team will think about the wider context that your event will take place in.

This will help you to identify your plan's strengths and the hotspots that you need to focus on. Have a broad discussion to identify these areas – you will explore what you will do to reduce hotspots in the next section. 

You might like to highlight areas that need reviewing in your event risk profile as you discuss this section. 

The things across events that is the most problematic is the sort of "coming of age" crowd - they might want to try drugs for the first time. They are excited, probably mixing alcohol and are in large crowds. That is one of the things I would flag to be aware of as it can be quite problematic. Our older crowds use drugs too, but they are likely more experienced and know more about what they are taking.

- Brendan Hines, General Manager of Spark Arena

Here are some things to consider while exploring the context that your event will take place in: 

People tend to use drugs to enhance their experience of an event.

The experience that a person has when they take a drug is influenced by the drug itself, their body, their mindset when they take it, and the setting around them. For example, if people are stressed or nervous when they take a drug, they are more likely to have a distressing experience than if they are relaxed and happy. 

Focus on the demographics of the event. We find that dodgy drugs tend to be more common in more mainstream events, especially those aimed at a younger age group. 

- Wendy Allison, Managing Director of KnowYourStuffNZ 

See the what's out there page for information about drugs that you may see at your event. You might also like to speak to people in the area that your event will take place to find out if there are local trends. 

Here are some factors that can mean a person is more likely to have a distressing experience or require medical care if they use drugs: 

  • If they have not used a drug before, people may be less likely to know what to expect, how to use it in less risky ways, and what to do if something goes wrong. They are also more likely to have purchased drugs that are not what they think they are.
  • The environment. Hot weather or poor ventilation can contribute to people getting dehydrated and overheating.
  • A setting that makes people feel uncomfortable. For example, poor visibility, restricted movement, poor crowd flow, feeling intimidated or harassed by others.
  • Adulterated supply. Drugs could contain unexpected or dangerous substances and/or fillers.
  • Using too much. This could be caused by the substance being different to what a person thought it was and containing more doses, a person not knowing how much to use, or a person using more than they otherwise would to avoid them being confiscated.
  • Using multiple substances, including alcohol. This puts more strain on the body and can make the effects less predictable.
  • Impromptu purchases at the event. 


We consider a number of factors when looking at the risk profile of different events. The type of music attracts different crowds. The time of day and duration of the event. Looking at what’s happened recently in the community as well.

- Andy Gollings, CEO of Red Badge Group

When you go under 18 and try to include underage it gets really tough. With alcohol… and with drugs. The younger people are, the less they understand and the more they go out of control. The younger they are, the scarier it gets. 

- Mark Gosling, EVANZ Chairman, CEO of Trusts Arena

How you manage entry into your event matters. An intimidating security presence can make some people panic and take all the drugs they have on them at once – dramatically increasing their risk of overdosing and requiring medical care. 

Cars and camping gear can be hard to search. It might be helpful to check your procedures by exploring different scenarios.

You may also want to consider: 

  • What arrangements do you have with the police? Some event organisers have prior agreements with police about when they should become involved.
  • What training is provided to staff working on the entry to your event? 

I think it goes well when you understand the kind of preloading that goes on. One event we focussed on putting crowd care outside the fence line. We spent almost as much time dealing with people outside the event before they got in as we did inside the event.

- Mark Gosling, EVANZ Chairman, CEO of Trusts Arena

Having engaging ‘Fan Experience’ and ‘Fan Safety’ security staff is really important. I encourage all event organisers to make the time to understand the baseline training of the staff at your entry points. Your looking for a good balance of customer service vs human behaviour detection knowledge and application.

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

Review your site layout with your event team to look for hotspots where problems could occur. Here are some suggestions to look out for: 

  • Areas where people may wander off to while under the influence of a substance. Particularly those with safety risks (eg, streams, large hills, bodies of water, main roads).
  • Areas where people may sell or purchase drugs.
  • Areas where there is restricted crowd movement.
  • Areas of poor visibility.
  • Areas with poor reception.
  • Areas that might be harder for staff to get to if needed.
  • How the perimeter of the event is monitored.
  • Areas that are outside of the perimeter of your event, but that attendees visit regularly (eg, a carpark or off-site accommodation). 

Consider if attendees will know where your support services are located and if they will feel comfortable accessing them. Services that involve medical care need easily accessible transportation routes. An example of a stepped model for medical care is in the next section.  

Consider placing lower stimulus/chill out spaces away from the exits. This may encourage people who are distressed to use them without being worried that going into them is the first step out of the event. 

Often attendees can moderate effects they experience from drug use, preventing medical or social incidents from happening. Things like water and food provision can help a lot – reducing the chances that someone would require medical care. 

You might like to consider: 

  • What the temperature is likely to be during your event, and whether attendees will be able to cool down if they get too hot or warm up if they get too cold.
  • Whether your event has enough free water for patrons to drink.
  • Whether your event has enough food options. 

Identifying, getting to, and responding to incidents requires good communication. Use the same map with all stakeholders with a clear grid, so your team can quickly let each other know where they need to go. 

Consider what you will do if people are intoxicated at your event. It may be more dangerous to remove people from your site while they are intoxicated. 

Have people there who are trained to recognise and deal with people who are having difficult experiences on drugs, who know when to escalate to medics, or when to escalate to someone else, or when the person doesn’t need formal intervention, just needs support and company till they feel better.

- Wendy Allison, Managing Director of KnowYourStuffNZ

You might like to consider these things: 

  • Are these services easy to find and access?
  • Are there barriers to accessing these services because they are located close to deterrents such as police, security, or childrens' spaces?  
  • If patrons leave to access these services, will it be easy for them to reconvene with their friends/group?
  • Which services need to be co-located for ease of transferring patrons or sharing information?  
  • Are there chill out zones for relaxing as well as chill out zones for people needing more support?
  • What are the pros and cons of co-locating health and wellbeing services? 

We will have three different areas of welfare. The first for people who just need to chill out, the second where they might need more medical support and the third where they need intensive support. There are different skills needed in each area.  

- Brendan Hines, General Manager, Spark Arena

One of the most successful decisions by St John Event Health Services has been to employ a full time risk manager to thoroughly assess health risks at events to ensure they are safely and adequately resourced with the right people, with the right qualifications, and the right tools.  

-Glen Hoult, Event Risk and Specialist Team Manager, St John

The crowd vibe is likely to change throughout the event, and some periods will carry more risks than others. You might like to consider: 

  • What is likely to happen throughout the event and where are the hotspots that need further attention?
  • What changes are you likely to see in your attendee energy levels and headspace throughout the event?
  • What is your ratio of people staying onsite and offsite? How might that impact on your event?
  • What are the implications of single-day passes?
  • What procedures do you have around leaving and re-entry? How might you prevent incidents from occurring when attendees leave the event? 

Health New Zealand - Te Whatu Ora

These resources have been created for event organisers, by event organisers. They were commissioned by Health Promotion, Health New Zealand -Te Whatu Ora, and the NZ Drug Foundation helped the working group share their expertise. Much thanks and appreciation to those who've contributed.