better safe than sorry

This year there have been several deaths at illegal parties in Switzerland and Germany, but also in other countries in Europe. Both in a case in Cologne at the end of August and in a case in Misox, Graubünden, the emergency call was alerted too late or not at all, because it was apparently unclear what consequences an ambulance call could have for the party and those involved. For this reason, we would like to give some advice on how to deal with drug emergencies, and especially on how to alert the ambulance service.

In principle, ambulance and police are two independent organizations. This means that when an ambulance is alerted, the police are not automatically called out. This only happens if the ambulance classifies an upcoming emergency as "potentially dangerous". It happens, depending on the canton, that this automatically classifies emergencies with mention of drug use as "potentially dangerous". In order to minimize such a risk, it is also always possible when alerting the ambulance service not to mention any use of illegal substances or an illegal party, but instead to describe only the condition of the person concerned (e.g. "is unresponsive and breathing shallowly"). In addition, emergency services are subject to a professional duty of confidentiality, which means that, in principle, there are no law enforcement consequences from them. Immediate legal consequences in relation to the consumption of illegal substances need therefore not be feared in the event of an alert. According to Article 128 of the Swiss Penal Code, you are legally obligated to render assistance or at least to alert assistance if you come across a person who is in a critical state of health. If you do not do this, you risk being charged with failure to render assistance.

Another aspect that repeatedly leads to foregoing an alert to the paramedics is the fear that the party will be broken up. Even if this risk exists, the health and safety of a person always counts more than a party!

The costs of an ambulance service are charged to the patient and, depending on the event, are covered in part or in full by the health insurance. However, these considerations should not prevent you from calling an ambulance. Possible financial difficulties can always be solved in some way, consequential health damages or deaths cannot.

Basic recommendations:

  • If you plan to consume something, inform your friends what and approximately how much you will consume. This will make it easier to get help in case of an incident.
  • If you come across a person who is obviously not well: stay with them and accompany them until they are safe. If possible, involve other party guests, preferably friends of the person concerned or the organizers and security. You do not have to act alone if you are uncomfortable! In emergency situations there are always people around to support you! Make yourself noticed and speak to people specifically.
  • If possible, move the person to a quiet, safe place and stay with them until support/help arrives. Make sure the person can breathe freely and try to keep them awake.
  • If the person faints and no longer responds to stimuli (e.g., loud speech, pain stimuli), immediately alert the paramedics and place him or her in a stable lateral position. Here you can find simple instructions. You can also discuss with the center 144 whether an ambulance is really necessary. Ask in the close environment or on the dance floor if someone has medical knowledge.
  • You do not have to give any information about consumption and the party to the emergency call center 144. If possible, find out what, when and how much was consumed. Drugs and alcohol also play a role! This information can be important for the treatment - then tell the ambulance on the spot what you know. The paramedics are bound to secrecy.
  • If a person shows consumption-related problems and you are unsure whether emergency services are necessary, you can also contact Toxinfo in Switzerland (Tel. 145, 24h). In the canton of Zurich, there is also the Aerztefon, which can be reached at 0800 33 66 55 (24h). There you can get medical support by phone and the Aerztefon can help you to decide whether an emergency doctor should be called.

NEVER is a party more important than someone's health or safety!


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