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NSW Draft Code of Practice for Dance Parties

3. First Aid

Whenever large numbers of people get together, qualified first aid personnel should be in attendance. Traditionally, this is done by St John Ambulance Australia, but other agencies such as the Red Cross are also available. St John Ambulance officers are volunteers but they rely on donations to buy training equipment and medical supplies. The number of first aiders and first aid posts will vary with the type of event. As a guide the numbers below have been suggested by St John Ambulance Australia.

   PATRONS       First Aiders       First Aid Posts*   
500 2 1
1000 4 1
2000 6 1
5000 8 2
10000 12 2
20000 22+ 4
* The number of first aid posts required would depend on what first aid room facilities are available. Every venue should have at least one room where there is power and running water.

First aiders are generally not needed for events smaller than 500 patrons if they are held close to ambulance centres or hospitals.

The Ambulance Service of NSW must be advised of events involving large numbers of patrons, regardless of the particular first aid arrangements that are made. See Section One for details on ambulance services.

First Aid Posts

These should be easy to see and identified by an illuminated sign at night. An ideal location is near the main entrance.

First aid kits must be maintained in accordance with the Australian Standard for the size of the crowd expected.


Experience from previous Dance parties has shown that most casualties are from:

  • heatstroke, dehydration, respiratory distress;
  • cuts from broken glass;
  • fainting and exhaustion from a mixture of hysteria, heat, and alcohol;
  • trampling or crushing from crowd pressure at the stage barrier;
  • illicit drug and alcohol abuse, or misuse of legal drugs;
  • patrons not knowing how to handle the effects of drug use;
  • epilepsy attacks brought on by strobe lighting.

Harm Minimisation

A 'chill out' area should be set up either in, or near the venue. Low profile, non-threatening supervision of the chill out area must be provided, so that patrons are not scared away, and so that patrons with health problems can be spotted and treated.

A 'check your mates' campaign or similar, should be promoted by the promoters. Posters explaining how to handle the effects of drugs like ecstasy could be set up in the toilets.

On site security will also help in spotting potential problems and escorting unwell patrons to the first aid station. Any patron concerned about symptoms from any drug use should be referred to the first aid post.

Adequate water must be available at all times, especially in the toilets.

Entertainment other than dancing should be considered eg virtual reality machines, Internet, arcade games and socialising areas.

Sound, strobe, laser and smoke machines should be operated within statutory levels.

Needle disposal containers could be considered for attaching to the back of toilet doors. Needle disposal containers are available from most medical supply wholesalers, local Council or Health Department Needle and Syringe Exchange outlets, and rural hospitals.

Details on needlestick injuries and needle and syringe disposal are found in Section One.

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