The Only Doctor At Lost Paradise Festival Didn't Know How To Intubate
The one doctor on-site at the Lost Paradise music festival, where a man died, said he was "uncomfortable" at the event.
Some 11,000 people.
Just one doctor.
“As I was entering the festival it was approaching 40 degrees and I felt very uncomfortable,” Dr Krishna Sura told the inquest into music festival deaths in Sydney on Monday.
But he couldn’t call for help –- he had no phone reception.
On the first day, after sending at least a dozen people to hospital and working two hours overtime, he finished at 2.30am. The Central Coast festival was left without a doctor on site for more than 10 critical hours until Dr Sura returned early at 1pm the next day.
He'd already raised his concerns about his own abilities with others.
"I think they were struggling to get doctors to work at this festival," he said.
Dr Sura was soon battling to save Joshua Tam’s life.
Tam, 22, arrived at the medical tent critically ill at about 6.15pm, with a temperature of 43 degrees Celsius and a heart rate of 190 beats per minute.
But Dr Sura didn't know how to intubate -- in other words, how to open the 22-year-old man’s airways with a tube. He’d never treated someone affected by a life-threatening drug overdose.
Tam later died at Gosford hospital.
Tam's best mate, who cannot be identified, relived that harrowing day, telling the inquest how he saw his friend “take one of the rocks [of MDMA] out and put it in his mouth and wash it down with vodka.”
“I think we all knew the dangers of it… I didn't think anyone would die," the friend said.
“I guess I’ve seen people have big nights on it and people affected by it differently but didn’t think a fatality, no."
Tam's friend said he would never take MDMA again.
“Never, ever touch it again. All we do is advocate not to touch it," he said.
The 23-year-old man said it was very hot on the day, and they struggled to keep cool. They'd filled some of their own water bottles brought into the festival with alcohol.
He now believes hydration is a key warning message for others in the battle to save young lives.
“Water is a big one for me,” he said.
“I don’t remember anyone handing out bottles of water. Water is normally pretty expensive at festivals."
He also called on artists performing at festivals to do more to look out for people's safety.
“Artists need to be very clear, stop the stage, get everyone’s attention, remind everyone to drink water," he said.
“I’ve never been to a festival where artist has said protect yourself, your safety. They actually need to say it, rather than an offhanded mention."
“How much one death has affected myself and everyone, if we can save one person then we have done our job.”
Counsel assisting the inquest Dr Peggy Dwyer suggested five medical learning areas:
- Festivals must have experienced doctors who can intubate patients unsupervised.
- A review of the doctor-patient ratio, particularly given the complex conditions that present at festivals.
- Formal guidelines on when to transfer patients to hospital.
- Clear understanding of equipment lists before the festival and who is responsible for what.
- Medication reviews, also before events, ensuring adequate drug supplies.
The inquest continues.