Why This EMT’s Thoughts on Hard Summer Are Important For All of Us


HARD Summer ended this past weekend at the Auto Club Speedway near Fontana, CA with three deaths, over 300 arrests, and numerous individuals transported to nearby hospitals.

This is the second year in a row HARD has faced attendee casualties at its HARD Summer event and, as heartbreaking as it is to say this, it’s painfully true – it doesn’t surprise me. This comes as yet another festival from which deaths have occurred – just recently, a girl passed away in June of this year at EDC Las Vegas, two individuals died at Sunset Music Festival in May, and last year’s HARD Summer event in Pomona, CA resulted in two females’ deaths. These are just a few to name among the many that have occurred in the past year.

Many of those who worked this weekend’s event have taken to social media to express their grievances – particularly a man that claims to be the EMT that worked medical at EDC. He wrote in a post on Reddit yesterday:

Man, that was bad. Last year I was a massive fan of the venue and lineup, and had a ton of fun. This year, not so much. The layout was absolutely awful, and the medical staff didn’t seem to be on par with what was needed. Let me put things into perspective about what EDC did versus what hard did medical wise:

All medics and EMTs carried a jump bag with supplies, and drugs. For instance, a drug called Versed can stop seizures (something that I saw quite often this weekend). NONE of the staff walking around had any drug boxes on them, as told to me by one of the medics who assessed a friend of mine. Also, at EDC we had 3 medical tents: Main medical, right medical, and left medical. Each place, had IV supplies, TONS of bags of fluid for us to give IVs and drugs, and other necessities. I would have people walk in to me, I would give them an IV, they feel better, and walk out and go enjoy the show. HARD ONLY had supplies at main medical, making the other medical tents virtually useless.

I usually don’t bitch about things like this, but I’ve never seen worse planning than this, and it frustrates me, especially since a lot of these heat related illnesses and sicknesses could have been avoided.

The post has since been deleted, but prior to its disappearance, it has made its rounds on the internet and stirred up a number of conversations around safety and medical services at music festivals. Others have taken to the same Reddit thread to share their personal experiences at HARD with the medics:

This debate is interesting, as it continues to play into the long-standing rivalry between Insomniac Events and HARD Events. Much of the thread compares the medical services at EDC compared to HARD:

Sure, this is a problem of who pays for what medical services. Some companies have larger budgets than others or choose to spend their funds elsewhere – and that is a problem. However, beyond these rival dilemmas, there’s something bigger. This is yet another event facing deaths due to lack of medical attention that adds to the slew of heartbreaking news that has become commonplace within festival news today. It seems almost expected that we will see at least one death at most of the large raves where heat or drugs are a factor. Why does this keep happening, and how can we change this? What will it take? Is it the education that needs to be more thorough for attendees, or is it the medical staff? Instead of trying to shift blame onto others, perhaps we should consider evaluating the processes that go into the creation and execution of these events from both ends: the event and the attendee.

A Reddit user offered up an interesting explanation as to why, perhaps, these deaths have become so commonplace and medical services are not as available as we all hope them to be:

By requiring venues to abide by the RAVE act, federal laws are only further creating dangerous situations for festival attendees. If you offer medical services for those on drugs, then you’re creating a drug-welcoming environment. But here’s the thing – aren’t those drugs going to be there anyway? Who’s to say that people are going to stop sneaking them into venues in the weirdest, most uncanny ways?

That’s it: they’re not. Kids are young, and they want to experiment. No matter how much security an event hires, no matter how thorough the searches at the gate are, attendees will find a way. Young people will ultimately find ways to take too much MDMA and forget to drink water, leading to dehydration or heat stroke. But instead of thinking about safety and implementing proper safety measures at raves and EDM events, venue owners have to be afraid of “maintaining a drug involved premises.”

This needs to change. This cannot be ignored any longer. No one wants these deaths to continue, and yet nothing has changed. Venues cannot acknowledge the fact that drugs are existing in their event because of the RAVE Act, but isn’t this causing more damage than good? Why should venues be penalized for allowing services that, in the end, could truly save lives? Event organizers are concerned that allowing drug education and harm reduction services inside their event will demonstrate that they’re condoning drug usage and therefore could be subject to criminal prosecution under the RAVE Act. But they’re not criminals. They’re not hurting anyone. Rather, they are doing what they can to protect those that want to attend their events. They shouldn’t be punished for that.

Dede Goldsmith, whose daughter died of a heat stroke after taking MDMA at a rave in 2013, has created a petition to amend the RAVE Act that would allow venues to take the “safety first” approach to drug usage at events. With over 15,000 signatures, the petition would create a more open and safe environment that could save innocent lives that did not deserve to be lost. Anyone can sign online.

Beyond legislative action, we can all take a moment to share the love and compassion that is embedded in the rave culture – PLUR is still alive and well, after all – by keeping an eye out for those who are struggling. The movement can start with us. Offer water to someone who looks like they’re dehydrated or check in on the individual sitting alone and looking sick. The venue may not be able to offer the proper medical needs, but we can watch each other’s backs.