More than 20 people have been hospitalised after overdosing at a Melbourne music festival. Overall ambulance officers treated 30 people who attended the Electric Parade Music festival, with 25 of them being hospitalised after taking what was believed to be the synthetic drug GHB at the Myer Music Bowl. Many of those treated were described as being in a critical condition at an event that was described by Ambulance Victoria state health commander Paul Holman as “awash with drugs."
“The majority of those treated by paramedics had overdosed on GHB,” Holman said. “We have transported  young people from that event alone and we’re now up to 30-plus from that event and across the city all with GHB overdoses, all critically ill. It’s the highest number of overdoses we have seen at a music event for some time ... That we haven’t seen [any deaths] tonight is probably just good luck and not anything else.”
Ambulance officers also treated seven others who collapsed in nearby parks and streets.
St Vincent’s Hospital took eight patients and most had GHB and “a cocktail of other drugs” in their system, its spokesperson said. By 9am on Sunday, seven had been discharged and the one remaining was not in a critical condition. The Alfred took in 15 drug overdose patients – two were critical but the majority had been discharged. The Royal Melbourne Hospital also treated overdose patients, though its figures are yet to be updated.
The majority of the drug overdoses are believed to have been of the synthetic drug GHB. “It’s a drug that causes people to become unconscious, slows the heart rate and can cause seizures,” Holman said. Days before the festival, Electric Parade organisers cautioned attendees about “zero tolerance” of drugs.
“Anyone caught using illicit substances throughout the event will be swiftly ejected by security and will not be allowed to return,” it said on its Facebook page. Holman said of GHB: “It’s a drug that causes people to become unconscious, slows the heart rate and can cause seizures. It’s frustrating that so many people were prepared to risk their lives by taking dangerous drugs.”
Police say 40 people were arrested at the event. One man was charged and remanded overnight after quantities of ecstasy, cocaine, MDMA, LSD, ketamine and hash were found on him. The event is scheduled to head north today and will take place at the University of Sydney.
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