Music festivals are nothing new. They've been a staple of the rock n' roll experience for generations. We like to think of our parents and grandparents as being more mature and responsible than we were, but remember - nothing is new, children.
We promise, getting crazy at music festivals is something our forefathers knew well - which means needing medical services because you got too crazy at a music festival is a time honored tradition, folks!
One reddit user asked:
EMS/Medical people at Music Festivals, what are your most crazy stories?
We're not sure how half of these people are still alive, but they now have legendary tales to tell. Here are some of our favorites, some may be edited for clarity.
A guy jumped down from the nose bleed section and then yelled "whats my favorite type of fruit pie?!?" We took him away because he was way too high and had a concussion. Still don't know which pie is his favorite.
Hydration Is ImportantGiphy
Basslights 2015 in Hampton Virginia. This girl was running around the venue topless, mercilessly crushing a water bottle (which was empty) in her first, running up to people and shoving it in the faces screaming DOES ANYBODY NEED ANY WATER?!?! Her pupils were black as night, and she was grinding her teeth to a pulp. It was terrifying.
A Bike Pump?Giphy
Some people next to us a Phish's Labor Day weekend shows had this bike pump. They fitted the end with a little cup and were blasting drugs up their noses with it. We heard em jokingly say "you know those people that party too hard and get taken away by medics, that's totally gonna be us".
Well....it was them at like 4am Sunday morning.
The Legendary BugsyGiphy
On the Woodstock album, there's an announcement: "Bugsy, please report to the medical tent". I know that Bugsy, he was a family friend.
Whoever was in charge of the medical tent heard about Bugsy, and he spent a lot of time helping diagnose symptoms and talking people down from bad trips.
Bugsy was the go-to guy in town that vetted every single drug that entered that town. Until Bugsy gave the OK, nobody would touch anything. If Bugsy said it was not legit, not only did no kids use the stuff, but the older guys would run that dealer out of town for trying to hurt people. We all looked after each other in those days. Good times.
"Bro, It's A Rave And This Is How I Party."Giphy
Got called to an unresponsive person in a stream a few years back. He was almost K holed and high on GHB with his head dangling off the end of an inflatable couch just touching the top of the water. Seriously, if he fell off he would have been a goner. As a harm reduction based first aid team, we brought him to a semi coherent level of consciousness and explained why it was a bad idea to pass out, in the water. And he got quite upset, which led to one of my favorite quotes from a festival ever: 'Bro, It's a rave, and this is how I party man'
A few inches away from drowning apparently? Since he was awake, we brought him and the couch to shore and bid him good day. Then got called to the girl who had ODed on GHB in the middle of the stream and was barely breathing and totally hypothermic. We worked on her for hours and she made it. Point is don't do dissociatives around water kids. Unless it's a rave and that's just how you party.
I walk past the stage and a guy comes out stumbling, supported by two mates. They see us and yell: "He's yours"
And drop the guy in our arms. We assume severe intoxication and start escorting him towards our first aid station. Suddenly a girl taps my shoulder and says: "I don't know if you got the whole picture... he just tried to do a back flip off of a oil barrel, but he landed on his forehead. Since the he started sweating and became even more intelligible."
This gets me worried of course so we hurry to the tent. I put him down on the stretcher and asks him some questions about how he's feeling and what happened. As the festival was in a part of the country with dialect I was unfamiliar with I could always ask myself the question; Why don't I understand him? Is it, a) dialect (his friends were also hard to understand so this was definitely an option), b) drunkenness (he reported somewhere between 40 and 60 beers, so this was also a good guess), or c) brain damage (he hit his head hard and was suddenly sweaty, so this was strike three).
On his forehead I find a dimple about a centimeter deep with the skin still intact, just a deep dimple. The guy fractured his skull and had to be rushed off by ambulance.
Was an EMT B, signed up for a shift during governors ball in New York two summers ago. Some drunk and severely dehydrated Russian girl in her early 20's starts taking off her clothes in the ambulance while my partner was sitting in the front heading towards the hospital. She barely spoke English. She started messing around with herself and I, a semi new EMT at 19 yrs old, didn't how to best handle this.
So I decided to use some zip ties and tied her wrists to the stretcher and then covered her body with an extra bed sheet. She started yelling daddy towards me as I pushed her stretcher into the ER to get her checked in, the triage nurses at that hospital called me Daddy for the rest of my time working as an EMT.
All Hail Party Snake!Giphy
Worked a large Electronic music festival in 2016. A patient found a snake somehow in the woods near by, carried it around in his pocket until he was in the rave pit, and took it out. It proceeded to bite the living hell out of him. He dropped the snake and came to the med tent. Well it turns out that another festival goers found the snake, picked it up and put it in HIS pocket... and so the story repeated four more times! Finally the poor snake bit a patient through his pocket and he came in with the snake still in his pocket since he couldn't get it out.
5 patients. One snake. Lots of drugs.
All hail party snake!
"A F^cking Redneck Bloodbath"Giphy
I volunteered with a rescue squad that was tasked with providing EMS for the Blue Ridge Music Festival. It was a very small scale country music festival that went on for 2 days. It was far from a huge festival, but there were hundreds of people present and it was a bit of a logistical nightmare. So the first year they did this festival we were woefully under prepared. We had maybe 40 or so providers and it was all hands on deck, but we were split up roughly 20 on one day and 20 on the other. The temperature outside was in the 90s and they were serving tall 24 oz beers to people as the only alcohol you could get. You overpaid and got these tall boys and then went and crushed it out in the heat where there was no shade as it was a smaller high school sized football stadium with no real covering. They had the bright idea to cover the field with this big black tarp and everyone was out lying on this thing all day. What resulted was a redneck bloodbath.
First of all, these were people that are not used to the festival atmosphere, local bros, country girls with their cowboy boots on their feet all day, not drinking enough water, getting drunk on these tall boys. It was a recipe for disaster. A lot of people didn't realize that you can't dome six 24oz beers like you can dome a standard 12 oz six pack. But there's still beer in your can so you keep drinking and only count that as 1 beer - because drunk math.
It wasn't long before the radios were blowing up. We had drunk people falling out all over the stadium. We had people stationed all over the place trying to respond to calls and while on their way they would stumble upon someone else that was covered in vomit and not able to sit up. Then we had teams dedicated to the parking lot because people were pre-gaming out there. Its next to impossible to respond to a 911 call for 'a drunk guy passed out next to the back of a pickup truck' when that is the scene every 5 feet. I would head to a call for someone down/seizing/injured with 3 or 4 people and have to send the other providers off in different directions to follow people asking for help with other sick/injured/seizing people.
I vividly remember stepping out from our little tent and seeing the mass of drunks we had collected. All these people piss drunk lying around drinking the water we gave them. I watched as a girl walked up, started vomiting, and just walked along this whole row of people spraying them. It was a warzone.
We got our a**es handed to us for two days straight and thankfully nobody was seriously injured or died, but we probably sent 15 to 20 people to the hospital over the course of the festivals 2 days and treated/released 3 times that many. Again, it was a smaller festival but still for us this was waaaay more than we were equipped to handle. We were stretched thin but somehow got through it.
So the next year we knew this clusterf^ck was coming and we planned accordingly. We brought in 3 other rescue squads to help staff it. We setup rapid exit points at 2 points of the stadium. Basically if a call went out the decision was made that a medic would assess the patient, if they were deemed too sick/fucked up/whatever to remain at the festival and take care of themselves they had two options, PD would escort them off the property or they had to go to the hospital (obviously if someone was not competent to refuse transport they also went to the hospital).
Instead of sitting on these fools, anyone too drunk got those two choices and were dealt with quickly. We would have ambulances stationed at either end and as 1 took a patient another would take its place. It might seem like overkill, but yet again we were pushed to the limits even with twice the manpower and a much better plan. This time though things went 1000 times better. We borrowed a FEMA morgue tent and used morgue stretchers to setup a rehab area. Basically if you were just feeling a little sick/needed to get out of the sun you could come into this giant freezer designed to store bodies after natural disasters and lie down on a corpse cot. It worked perfectly. We would rehab people, if after 10 minutes they were still sick, it was once again, either leave or go to the hospital. While that sounds harsh its not like we were booting people for just being drunk, I'm talking people falling down drunk or having obvious medical emergencies.
It was a good example of learning from your mistakes and developing a revised action plan to handle a large group of people, behaving like idiots, out in the sun all day, not taking care of themselves. Again nobody died and we didn't have a huge number of hospital transports. But one girl around 9 pm was drunk as f^ck and fell in the middle of the crowd and broke her fucking ankle, bone obviously protruding. She didn't want to leave because whoever headliner country music star was coming on. We had to strap her to a board while she was still standing trying to see the headliner and carry her out of the place by like 8 people.
3/10, wont ever work large crowd events ever again if I can help it.
Festivals are normally quite entertaining to work. Most memorable was a guy insisting he was a green pepper. He was very scared that someone was going to chop him up and put him in a salad.