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.
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
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.
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:
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:
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
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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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 may also consider some of the following questions when it comes to reviewing your medical services:
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
The Ministry of Justice shared the following guidance:
- The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 and the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 (specific to the drug and substance checking amendments 2021) share the same policy intent, which is to minimise substance-related harm.
- Nothing in either Act precludes establishments with alcohol licences from operating in proximity to drug checking services.
- Similarly, nothing in either Act precludes events from holding an alcohol special licence while also hosting drug checking services.
- As part of a licence application for a large-scale event, the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 provides for applicants to work with Police and the territorial authority to develop a bespoke event management plan. The event management plan supports event providers to manage risk and ensure patron wellbeing.
- Police advise that where an event provider believes illicit drug use may be an issue, action steps to deal with this (such as having bag searches as a condition of entry, a policy of removal from the event for those caught with illegal or controlled drugs, and/or a policy for how to manage intoxicated people, among others) should be included in the event management plan. We would not expect these action steps to relate to drug checking services.
- Further, Police guidance is that people's presence in or near a drug checking service area is not sufficient grounds to enact a warrantless search.
- The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 provides for district licensing committees to add specific conditions to alcohol licences to ensure the objects of the Act are upheld. While a condition could be imposed, for example, to require compliance with an agreed event management plan, we would not expect conditions to be imposed that links the alcohol licence to any drug checking services.
- Ministry of Justice, February 2023
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
These resources have been created for event organisers, by event organisers. They were commissioned by Te Whatu Ora, and the NZ Drug Foundation helped the working group share their expertise. Much thanks and appreciation to those who've contributed.