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Ann Emerg Med. 1996 Jul;28(1):22-6.

Drug use patterns at major rock concert events.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA.



To describe alcohol and drug use patterns in patients presenting to first aid stations at major rock concerts.


We retrospectively reviewed all charts generated at the first aid stations of five major rock concerts featuring the rock groups Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones. The first aid stations, located at a sports stadium, were staffed by paramedics, emergency medicine nurses, and physicians. We recorded the following data: patient demographics, history of drug or ethanol use, time spent by patient in first aid station, treatment rendered, diagnosis, and patient disposition.


A total of 253, 286 spectators attended the five concert events. The rate of use of the first aid station was 1.2 per 1,000 patrons. The average age of the patrons was 26.3 +/- 7.9 years (range, 3 to 56 years). The most common diagnoses were minor trauma 130 (42%) and ethanol or illicit drug intoxication 98 (32%). Of the patients treated, 147 (48%) admitted to using illicit drugs or ethanol while attending the concerts. The median time spent in the first aid station was 15 +/- 22.5 minutes (range, 5 to 150 minutes). One hundred patients (32.5%) were treated and released, 98 (32%) were transported to emergency departments, and 110 (35.5%) signed out against medical advice.


Minor trauma and the use of illicit drugs and ethanol were common in spectators presenting to first aid stations at these concert events. Physicians and paramedical personnel working at rock concerts should be aware of the current drug use patterns and should be trained in treating such drug use.

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