When Harm Reduction + Festival Medical Services Succeed: Tall Tree Music Festival

Tall Tree Music Festival, held June 23-26, 2017, Port Renfrew BC, reports that zero fentanyl was detected onsite through Harm Reduction drug testing services and that no fentanyl overdoses or deaths occurred. A massive win considering the climate of fentanyl OD’s in BC.


Photo: Lindsey Blaine

Organizers of Tall Tree Music Festival made the precautionary decision to increase harm reduction services and to increase staff on both the onsite medical team and harm reduction team for 2017. The Festival reports that zero fentanyl was detected in any of the free and confidential drug testing offered through Harm Reduction Services and no fentanyl related concerns were brought to the team’s attention over the course of the event. Most importantly, there were zero fentanyl overdoses reported by either the Harm Reduction Team, Medical Team or Volunteer Fire Dept, and only in one unrelated instance did a patron have to be transported offsite for further medical treatment. The individual was released shortly after admission and has made a full recovery.

“The teamwork that exists between Harm Reduction and the Field Hospital is inspiring to be a part of,” comments Kaityln Nohr, Director of Harm Reduction at Tall Tree Music Festival. “This group of professionals are unique, and by this I mean that it’s not common to have collaborative intervention and treatment working side-by-side in the event world.”


Kaitlyn Nohr. Photo courtesy of Darren Stone, Times Colonist

The success of Tall Tree’s harm reduction strategy is aimed at providing the best possible education and care to patrons of the event. While organizers do not condone the use of illicit drugs, the number one priority is keeping attendee’s safe. Over the course of the weekend, several drug tests were completed and over 800+ individuals educated about harm reduction practices.

“Harm Reduction and Medical work 24 hours around the clock to ensure the safety of everyone present,” comments Nohr. “The difference in working with safety teams in a collaborative way has proven time and time again (for me anyways over the past 4 years) that there is a solid group of individuals committed to supporting each other and the people attending the festival. Most of the time we don’t have time to watch our favourite bands, so feel free to come and give our teams some high-fives.”


In 2017 the services provided at the event included: full service field hospital, harm reduction tent, roving harm reduction unit, drug testing, drug and sexual education services, safe space/sanctuary for anyone needing a break, staff and volunteers ranging from nurses, social workers, counsellors, MD’s, paramedics, police and fire. The Port Renfrew Volunteer Fire Department conducts hourly checks of buildings, outhouses and campsites to ensure patrons are safe throughout the night.


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