By Jacob Dubé
The Ryerson Students’ Union’s (RSU) Sundown music festival will have people on site trained to use naloxone kits, following suit with other Canadian music festivals this year.
Naloxone is a medication used to treat opioid overdoses in emergency situations.
According to RSU vice-president student life & events Lauren Emberson, there will be medical professionals at Sundown the entire time.
Sundown will be the follow-up to last year’s controversial 6 Fest concert.
“We’re making sure we’re regaining back the trust of not only students but also any stakeholders that might be interested in working with the RSU,” Emberson said.
Brodie Metcalfe, events coordinator at the RSU, said that there will be Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on site to administer naloxone, as well as staff from the equity service centres that were recently trained with the kits.
“For us, when it comes to substance use around events like this, our first approach is harm reduction,” Metcalfe said.
Camryn Harlick, the RSU’s vice-president equity, is planning on having all of the equity service centre staff trained and equipped with naloxone kits by the end of the school year.
“I think we know that students use drugs, folks have always used substances. We know that it’s happening, why not take the [preparations] in advance so we know students are safe?” Harlick said.
The university currently has no plans to have its staff or security carry naloxone—which can be administered through the nose or in an injection—and said it would rather leave that to EMS.
“Ryerson University student leaders are trained to spot students in distress and to call on the expertise of security or our hired EMS on scene when needed. We have not trained student leaders to carry or administer antidotes, including naloxone,” read a statement from Ryerson’s office of public affairs.
“When it comes to substance use around events like this, our first approach is harm reduction”
Harlick said that the plan is still in its early stages, as they’re verifying that the equity centre staff are allowed to be trained to carry the kits so that there’s no administrative issues. But they also said that nothing is stopping individuals from being trained and carrying their own kits with them anyways.
Metcalfe added that there will be security at the festival provided by Toronto company SecurTrust, as well as paid police officers that will have a no-questions-asked drop- box for illicit substances outside the festival, so that people have a last chance to rid themselves of any drugs before entering.
More music festivals in Ontario included staff trained to administer naloxone this year, since more people were hospitalized due to opioid overdoses and the increasing dangers of drugs laced with the lethal fentanyl.
WayHome, a music festival held annually north of Barrie, allowed concertgoers to carry their naloxone kits with them after pressure from attendees. Veld, the electronic festival held in Toronto, did the same. However, it was still reported that 30 concertgoers were hospitalized at the show.
Sundown will be held on Sept. 22 at 20 Polson Street.
The music festival will feature acts like Miguel, Joey Bada$$ and The Skins.