Reports of violence, drug overdoses, sexual assault at Ottawa Bluesfest
Ottawa’s Bluesfest music festival had police and paramedics scrambling on Thursday night as hundreds of partygoers were treated for injuries and intoxication at the venue and 10 were taken to hospital.
Four additional paramedics had to be called in, according to a statement released by the city’s emergency services around 2 a.m., after workers on-site became “overwhelmed very early on in the evening.”
Narcan, the drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, was administered at least once.
Of the 10 people transported to hospital, six were minors. One of the 10 patients had been sexually assaulted and the others suffered injuries after falls or were treated for serious alcohol and drug intoxication.
“Over 200 patients were assessed and managed by the on-site medical team inside the Bluesfest fence,” the statement noted.
In addition to private event security, Ottawa police were also on scene to try to manage the crowds. The association representing Ottawa’s paramedics tweeted out a video on Friday morning that it says shows officials “dispersing males attacking security.”
Police officers are also seen in the video, although it’s unclear if any arrests were made or charges laid.
Thursday’s main stage lineup included Australian DJ Flume, rapper Lil Yachty and hip-hop group Migos.
During the sets, there were additional reports of full beer cans being thrown, people at the front of the crowd being crushed and security guards being attacked. Global News has not independently verified those accounts.
In additional to the medical incidents on-site, paramedics treated about 10 people just outside the festival grounds.
Residents of the local Centretown neighbourhood have complained in recent days of Bluesfest attendees urinating on their lawns, driveways and fences. One woman reportedly found human feces in her carport.
The City of Ottawa said any decisions surrounding increased security over the weekend would need to be made by the festival organizers and Ottawa police.
Bluesfest organizers said they met with Ottawa police and paramedics on Friday to discuss the “challenging” situation the night before.
“Bluesfest organizers are not anticipating the same level of demand for emergency services this weekend, and will be well prepared in any event,” organizers said in an emailed statement.
Music festivals across Canada have stepped up security and safety measures in recent years in response to a rising number of drug overdoses, as well as groping and other forms of assault during the events. There are also several public awareness campaigns underway encouraging people to report any criminal activity they might witness.
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