ACL partnering with non-profit to hand out overdose reversal medication this year

AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the first time, anyone walking around Austin City Limits Music Festival will have the option to snag a free opioid overdose reversal treatment and get training on how to use it.

“The nationwide Fentanyl overdose crisis is affecting many different aspects of our communities, and while it’s not unique to festivals we see this proactive measure as an important opportunity to educate and arm a large group of like-minded people with information and tools that can save lives,” ACL festival organizers told KXAN.

This Must Be The Place founders, William Perry and Ingela Travers-Hayward, on their way to Austin, Texas for Austin City Limits Music Festival (Courtesy: This Must Be The Place)
This Must Be The Place co-founders, William Perry and Ingela Travers-Hayward, on their way to Austin, Texas for Austin City Limits Music Festival (Courtesy: This Must Be The Place)

Austin City Limits Music Festival is partnering with nonprofit This Must Be The Place to educate festival goers at all of its events, including Austin City Limits Music Festival, about the dangers of fentanyl and how to use opioid overdose reversal medication, naloxone (commonly known as the brand-name Narcan).

“Austin City Limits festival is one the biggest stages that you can possibly promote that message,” said William Perry, co-founder of This Must Be The Place. “We’re just really grateful that we’re able to come in and hopefully have an affect.”

The nonprofit will have a booth at this year’s festival where they will pass out thousands of units of free naloxone. It’s the first year the reversal medication has been openly handed out to festival-goers inside ACL.

“I think it pushed harm reduction a huge huge step forward, just by them being this huge company that says, ‘yup, we’re having it on the ground, no big deal, let’s just keep each other safe.’ It really helps to destigmatize it in a way a lot of other companies haven’t done,” said Ingela Travers-Hayward, co-founder of This Must Be The Place.

This Must Be The Place booth.
This Must Be The Place booth. The group will be out at ACL this year to pass out free naloxone (Courtesy: This Must Be The Place)

ACL Festival organizers told KXAN the group has already handed out 25,000 free doses of Narcan at C3 festivals nationwide. They’ll have roughly 5,000 to be passed out at ACL, they said.

It’s a model Travis County Judge Andy Brown would like to see replicated at other large events in Travis County.

“I think everybody is seeing that this isn’t something limited to music festivals, this is something that is a crisis in Travis County just like it is everywhere in the United States,” Brown said. “I think that people in general are realizing that supplying Narcan doesn’t mean anything other than you want to save human lives.”

Emergency response

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (ATCEMS) personnel at Austin City Limits Festival will also all have naloxone on them, EMS said. They urged festival attendees not to take unknown medications or drugs as they’ve seen an uptick over the past few years in fentanyl-related overdoses.

“The best thing to do is just stay away from any kind of medication that’s offered to you and any kind of illicit drug,” Captain Darren Noak said.

ATCEMS will again have a large presence at this year’s festival, including a command center and a separate communications division that will dispatch EMS to ACL-related calls. ATCEMS is using ATV-like vehicles which cut through traffic and large crowds more effectively than ambulances.

“Austin City Limits Music Festival operates a world-class onsite medical program, which includes a range of medical providers including physicians onsite. This operation is closely coordinated with Austin-Travis County EMS and local hospitals. Our medical providers are poised to deliver care in any scenario, including a potential overdose,” ACL festival organizers said.

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