Emergency Care

At some stage you may be required to perform first aid for somebody who needs it through the usage of some form of drugs, whether it be for recreational use or a prescribed drug. So this may help you save somebodies life through your prompt action.

Heat Stroke

  • Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia in which the body temperature is elevated dramatically.
  • Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be fatal if not promptly and properly treated.
  • The cause of heat stroke is an elevation in body temperature, often accompanied by dehydration [1].

Different people may have different symptoms and signs of heatstroke. Common symptoms and signs of heat stroke include -

  • high body temperature,
  • the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin, or damp skin,
  • headache,
  • dizziness,
  • confusion,
  • nausea [2],
  • rapid pulse,
  • strange behaviour,
  • agitation,
  • disorientation,
  • seizure, and/or coma [1].

What to do

  • Call 999/911 right away - heat stroke is a medical emergency.
  • Move the person to a cooler place.
  • Help lower the person's temperature with cool cloths or with whatever means available - sponge with cool water, fan while misting with cool water.
  • Do not give the person anything to drink [2].


Heatstroke can result in a number of complications, depending on how long the body temperature is high. Severe complications may include -

  • Vital organ damage. Without a quick response to lower body temperature, heatstroke can cause your brain or other vital organs to swell, possibly resulting in permanent damage.
  • Death. Without prompt and adequate treatment, heatstroke can be fatal [3].

The Recovery Position

If a person is unconscious but is breathing and has no other life-threatening conditions, they should be placed in the recovery position.

Putting someone in the recovery position will keep their airway clear and open. It also ensures that any vomit or fluid won't cause them to choke [4].

Follow these steps -

  • with the person lying on their back, kneel on the floor at their side,
  • place the arm nearest you at a right angle to their body with their hand upwards, towards the head,
  • tuck their other hand under the side of their head, so that the back of their hand is touching their cheek,
  • bend the knee farthest from you to a right angle,
  • carefully roll the person onto their side by pulling on the bent knee,
  • the top arm should be supporting the head and the bottom arm will stop you rolling them too far,
  • open their airway by gently tilting their head back and lifting their chin, and check that nothing is blocking their airway,
  • stay with the person and monitor their condition until help arrives [4].

Panic attacks

If you feel or someone you are looking after start getting panicky (heart racing, breathing getting very fast, feeling very anxious) the following might help -

  • Sit down with your back against something solid (wall, fence),
  • Bring knees up and have head between knees,
  • Take deep regular breaths in through the nose and breath out through the mouth,
  • If you are helping a person who is panicking, provide reassurance, by talking calmly and ensuring that they aren't being hassled by lots of people,
  • If the symptoms get worse or there are persisting chest pains seek medical help urgently [5].


MDMA and related compounds can cause convulsions. If you are with someone having a convulsion -

  • Don't try to restrain them or put anything in their mouth,
  • Do move furniture or other hazards out of the way so the person won't hit them,
  • Do place a pillow, cushion or folded jacket under the person's head cushion it,
  • Always send someone to get help [5].


MDMA-type drugs can cause a dangerous increase in body temperature. This can be fatal [5]. Signs of overheating aren't always easy to spot but can include -

  • Feeling very hot,
  • Stopping sweating,
  • Cramps in legs and arms,
  • Headaches,
  • Feeling anxious or panicky [5].

Dealing with overheating

  • It's a medical emergency: dial 999/911 or get on-site medics to help,
  • Keep the person cool,
  • Get them in to fresh air. (At a festival this includes taking them out of sleeping bag or tent),
  • Remove any heavy outer clothes,
  • Spray them with cool water,
  • If they are shaking or convulsing don't restrain them as this will make them hotter,
  • Don't try and make them drink anything at this stage - it could make things worse,
  • Tell the emergency services the person may have taken an MDMA-type drug [5].