Medical team at Isle of Wight Festival sees 15% rise in heat-related incidents

Medical commander David Rock, from Festimed, said there has been a ‘huge reduction’ in the number of alcohol and substance-related incidents.
Medical commander David Rock, from Festimed, said there has been a ‘huge reduction’ in the number of alcohol and substance-related incidents.

The medical team at the Isle of Wight Festival said they have seen fewer heat-related issues than expected but there has still been a 15% rise in incidents since last year.

Medical commander David Rock, from Festimed, expected 40% to 50% of patients to suffer heat stroke and other heat-related issues but said it has been far less and called it a “reasonable” weekend.

“We were expecting it to be a lot busier with the heatwave,” he told the PA news agency.

“We increased the capacity greatly for that. Luckily, we didn’t need to use any of that as we’ve been quite reasonable this weekend.”

Medical commander stood in front of the medical tent at the Isle of Wight Festival
Medical commander David Rock said there was a huge reduction in drug and substance-related incidents at this year’s Isle of Wight Festival (Sarah Ping/PA)

He said it has been “great” to tend to fewer incidents than expected.

“We’ve had a 15% increase in heat-related incidents since last year… now we were expecting that to be up to 40% or 50% because of the extreme heat,” he said.

“The temperatures did have an impact on us, but it wasn’t to the level that we were geared up for, which was great.”

The medical tent, which has around 75 professional staff, runs 24 hours a day to treat everything from minor injuries to more severe incidents, such as cardiac arrest.

“We kind of treat (the festival) as a little mini-city that we provide the medical facilities for,” Mr Rock said.

“It’s fully set up ready for anything from a hurty finger all the way up to a cardiac arrest, but luckily we don’t get to too many serious ones, which is good.”

While the team has had to deal with one festival-goer with a cardiac condition, generally there has been “nothing of great significance”, which Mr Rock believes has been partly due to the increase in drinking water taps across the festival site.

“The site here has done a huge amount of work on extra water points, social media, talking to people and telling people to shade, wear sunscreen, drink fluids, and it’s paid off,” he said.

The site has around 150,000 pieces of medical equipment and medicines including antibiotics, which patients can collect without going off site to a hospital or GP clinic, which Mr Rock said “alleviates pressure on the NHS which is already stretched”.

Mr Rock also said there has been a “huge reduction” in the number of alcohol and substance-related incidents at this year’s festival, which has limited the pressure on the medical tent.

“It’d be wrong for me to say that there wasn’t any alcohol or drugs on site – there definitely is – but luckily it’s quite small amounts and hasn’t had a huge impact,” he said.

“Normally, we’d have a fair few people in our recovery area, but this year it’s been a huge, huge reduction on that.”

The medical commander said that managing 75 staff in the weekend’s heat is something that people tend to forget about but precautions were taken to ensure they could work safely in the sweltering temperatures.

“This is one of the things we all forget – our staff are humans as well,” he said.

“All the contractors are humans, and they do get affected by the heat, so we have put extra things in place like ice and more breaks and cooler areas, a little bit shorter shifts, rotations, and that’s paid off.

“We haven’t had any staff have any issues as well, which is very important because without the staff we can’t do anything.”

Though the Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for thunderstorms for England and Wales, including the Isle of Wight, temperatures are still expected to reach highs of 22C on the island.

Mr Rock’s main message to festival-goers during hot weather is to “keep the fluids” as “drinking to thirst is the most important thing”.