Follow-Up: Cow Palace Overdose Incident

KQED’s Joshua Johnson has spoken to a North County Fire public information officer about Friday’s incident at the Cow Palace: 17 people attending an electronic music festival were hospitalized due to excessive drug and alcohol use. From a San Jose Mercury News report:

Ambulances and paramedics from at least four counties were dispatched to the Cow Palace to transport sick concert goers to hospitals, the North County Fire Authority reported Saturday. At least one person was reported in critical condition. Authorities had little information about the others.

Paramedics said some of the sick were disoriented, vomiting, and struggling to breathe. Some 14,000 people attended the music concert, called Subsonic Spookfest, which was open to those 16 and older. The event was sponsored by Live 105 radio station, according to a Cow Palace events listing.

Here’s what Josh has learned from North County Fire:

KQED’s Joshua Johnson has spoken to North County Fire public information officer Matt Lucet about the incident and learned the following:

  • Of the 17 taken to the hospital, there were no known fatalities, but two were deemed critical
  • The call came in around 8:30pm Friday night; the operation ran until two a.m.; the victims came in over that span of time
  • North County fire used three of its engines; AMR (a contracted ambulance provider) had ambulances from San Mateo, Alameda and SF Counties to help with transport
  • Rock Med is a local organization that provided care at the scene; North County Fire Rescue works closely with them. Rock Med is a project of Haight Ashbury Free Clinics and works with a number of venues in the Bay Area. It’s been around since the 1970s.
  • Victims were taken to Kaiser Redwood City, Kaiser South SF, Seton, Mills Peninsula, and San Mateo Med Ctr. In this kind of situation first responders try to spread out victims in multi-casualty incidents, especially on a Friday night (and especially since you don’t know how many more victims there’ll be).

State Sen. Leland Yee has also issued a statement in which he threatens to introduce legislation to require the Cow Palace provide “adequate police and medical presence.”

“There is a broken record at the Cow Palace. Once again, the Cow Palace failed to provide an adequate level of law enforcement and emergency personnel. Sadly, the Cow Palace and these rave promoters care more about making a quick buck than the safety of our kids and young people. It is reprehensible that the Cow Palace Board of Directors allows these events to occur without a level of security approved by local law enforcement agencies. Enough is enough.

Similar to our efforts to get a double fine zone on 19th Avenue, it unfortunately took years and too many deaths before we were able to get a bill approved. The results have been overwhelming – not a single pedestrian death since the double fine zone became law 2 years ago. If the Cow Palace fails to immediately develop a policy to protect our community, I am prepared to introduce legislation that would require them to provide an adequate police and medical presence before hosting these raves. Once and for all, we can finally end such tragedies at this troubled venue.”

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Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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