Edmonton’s goes private with Bomfest’s medical care to relieve strain on emergency services

Edmonton police are happy with the safety measures a new music festival has in place, months after it asked city council to put a temporary ban on raves for the strain they put on emergency services.

Councillors instead opted to increase on-site health safety presence, so Bomfest — an EDM festival at Expo Centre this weekend — hired 60 healthcare professionals to avoid the need to transport patients to hospitals.

On Saturday, Odyssey Medical Inc. received 20 patients with illness or injury symptoms. Four of them would have been transported to hospital had they not been at the festival grounds.

“I think we did what we came out to do, which was try to prevent unnecessary transports, because those are a burden on the ambulance system and a burden on the hospital,” Dr. Adam Lind told CTV News.

For EPS, the new measures have been a success so far.

“We’re happy with the deployment, from a public health standpoint,” Staff Sergeant Troy Carrier said. “There’s a harm reduction group, Indigo, making sure people are safe, making sure people are looked after.”

Indigo Harm Reduction Services offers a judgment-free space for festival-goers to ask medical questions or get help.

“If someone is feeling overwhelmed from the festival or overstimulated or took too many substances, we provide a space where people can come down and hang out with trained peers,” CEO Shelby Young said.

Bomfest manager Viet Nguyen says the city, police and Expo Centre have been “amazing” to deal with.

“[We’re] really trying to make this work, as opposed to working against each other. I feel this is a real step forward.”

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