Belfast Telegraph

Training for Odyssey Arena medics

The ambulance service is to provide major incident training to medics at Belfast's Odyssey Arena after dozens of drunk young people fell ill at a gig.

More than 100 people received medical treatment in and around the venue where Dutch DJ Hardwell was playing to a crowd of 10,000. A total of 18 were taken to hospital, but none were in a serious condition.

A report commissioned by Odyssey management recommended drafting in extra resources if necessary and wider consultation on the arrival of coaches for major events after many young people were deposited at the venue already intoxicated.

Odyssey Trust chief executive Robert Fitzpatrick said: "We hope that there will be an urgent review of the legislation governing alcohol consumption on buses and that there is an examination of the wider societal problem that exists in Northern Ireland regarding the prevalence of irresponsible alcohol consumption and how to tackle it."

He said a detailed event plan was in place and adhered to by arena staff and other agencies involved that night, February 6.

"Lessons have been learned and the Odyssey Arena will implement the recommendations made in this report and will continue to deliver world-class service to patrons," he added.

Recommendations from the review included that the arena provide a medical liaison to assist in the decision-making and communication process between the internal paramedic team and those outside the arena.

It said key people should meet up quickly if a potential situation which might lead to a major incident began to develop and recommended people be tasked with managing media relations to prevent "wild rumours" circulating on social media.

Health minister Edwin Poots has said alcohol was available at "pocket money prices" and added many young people turned up at the Odyssey pre-loaded with drink. Many treated were aged under 16.

He has commissioned research on the impact of the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol which could make it more expensive for children to obtain; the work is expected to be completed within the next few months.

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