Horror year at music festival reminder ‘drugs can kill’
A HORROR year which left three fighting for life after a suspected drug overdose at a Townsville music festival highlighted the need to be more vigilant, a senior detective has said.
The 2016 Groovin the Moo event headlined by Australian DJ Alison Wonderland and rockers British India drew a crowd of thousands, but when three were left fighting for their lives, police warned of a bad batch of drugs that were circulating.
At the time the Townsville Bulletin reported 23 people were taken to hospital with suspected drug or alcohol intake, three in a critical condition.
A large number of people were reportedly affected by drugs. It was later revealed the drugs were consistent with MDMA.
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Townsville Major and Organised Crime Squad officer-in-charge Detective Senior Sergeant Brad Phelps said the 2016 festival didn't change investigators' response in the lead up to the event, but reinforced the notion that drugs could kill.
"It certainly highlighted the need for us to be vigilant and to try and get that message out to the community that these drugs can kill," he said.
"And to try and educate the people … that not only is it a criminal offence but there are some very serious health consequences if things don't go according to plan when you take these substances."
Sen-Sgt Phelps said suspected drug overdoses didn't just relate to the type of pill.
"It's a combination of alcohol, MDMA, dehydration. The drastic effects that that has on a person's wellbeing was certainly shown that year."
Townsville Hospital data from 2016 revealed eight people suffering from MDMA-related illnesses were classified as experiencing "life threatening illness".
The alarming figure has not been surpassed year-to-date.
It is unclear what changes the horror year had on the police response to managing the event.
Sen-Sgt Phelps said music events with large crowds always reflected a surge of drugs coming into the community.
"In the lead up to it, during the event, there's certainly a great emphasis on us targeting those persons involved in bringing those drugs in," he said.
At this year's Groovin the Moo, 60 patients presented to the emergency department for adverse effects from drugs and alcohol.