Four Hospitalised For 'Drug-Related Issues' After Attending Sydney Dance Festival

11 December 2023 | 2:22 pm | Jessie Lynch

"Those people are in a critical but stable condition, their conditions appear to be from taking drugs and drug-related issues."

EPIK Festival

EPIK Festival (YouTube)

Four individuals have been hospitalised over the weekend due to “drug-related issues” after attending EPIK Music Festival held at Sydney Showground over the weekend during a severe heatwave.

The dance festival unfolded on a scorching Saturday (Nov. 9), with temperatures reaching a staggering 42.5°C by 3 pm. The heatwave persisted until 7:51 pm, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, creating challenging conditions for punters.

Four attendees were rushed to hospitals in critical condition, with NSW Health Minister Ryan Park to address the media in Wollongong. Minister Park attributed the hospitalisations to drugs.

"I can report that there were four transfers to hospitals from the Epik music festival," Mr Park said at a press conference in Wollongong on Sunday.

"Those people are in a critical but stable condition, their conditions appear to be from taking drugs and drug-related issues."

While the government had collaborated with festival organisers to enhance safety measures, including increased first aid services and designated "cool and chill out zones," Minister Park emphasised that festivalgoers must "take some personal responsibility" and make sure "they understand what they're doing" when attending a festival. 

"Government cannot and will not be responsible for every individual's behaviour but we are working with festival organisers to make them as safe as possible," he said.

The Epik festival is not the first event at the Sydney Showground to face drug-related concerns of late. Two men in their 20s tragically died from suspected overdoses after attending the Knockout Festival on September 30, held in the same venue. Investigations into these incidents are still ongoing.

The recent incidents have also again reignited the ongoing debate surrounding pill testing at music festivals.

Following the deaths at Knockout Festival, the mother of Alex Ross-King who died from an MDMA overdose at FOMO Festival in 2019 — urged the NSW government to implement better hard reduction strategies, such as pill testing, in order to avoid more deaths this coming festival season.

“They need to commence harm reduction strategies within music festival environments this summer. Now. Not wait for a drug summit,” she told reporters at the time (as per The Guardian).

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“If they do to a drug summit, fantastic. Go with some of your own evidence from a trial of pill testing in NSW.”

Despite continued calls for pill testing — particularly as the temperature begins to soar — the NSW Health Minister said in October that pill testing is not a “silver bullet” that would prevent deaths.

"We all have a role to play in this space but no one particular initiative is going to give complete coverage and ensure everyone goes home safely," he said at the time.

“What I don’t want people to believe is that one thing, pill testing, for example, is going to be a silver bullet that will prevent overdoses, that will prevent deaths.”