Doctor ‘out of comfort zone’ at ‘chaotic’ music festival

THE sole doctor on duty at a summer music festival where a young man died had no ­experience in treating life-threatening MDMA overdoses, an inquest has been told.

Dr Krishna Sura, a Mascot GP, said he started to feel ­uncomfortable as soon as he walked into the Lost Paradise festival on the Central Coast in December last year with the temperature at 40C and no phone reception.

He said he had made it clear to privately-owned Emergency Medical Services, which has been at the centre of the inquest into the deaths of six young people at five of last summer's dance festivals, that he could not intubate patients and manage airways.

Dr Krishna Sura was the doctor on duty at the Lost Paradise music festival. Picture: AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi
Dr Krishna Sura was the doctor on duty at the Lost Paradise music festival. Picture: AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi


Dr Sura said he believed EMS had contracted him, a GP, because they were "struggling" to get doctors to the 11,000-strong festival.

There were also a number of private paramedics.

Two other doctors contracted to EMS have already given evidence about the alleged chaos and lack of vital medicines and resuscitation equipment at the medical tent at the Defqon. 1 festival where Joseph Pham, 23, and Diane Nguyen, 21, died in September last year.

Emergency medicine specialist Associate Professor Anna Holdgate, asked to give expert evidence to the inquest, said in her report that Mr Pham's chances of survival would have "significantly improved" if he had been treated better and it should not have taken 70 minutes to get Ms Nguyen to hospital.

Dr Sura felt “uncomfortable” as soon as he entered the event in December last year.
Dr Sura felt “uncomfortable” as soon as he entered the event in December last year.

There had been about a dozen drug overdoses on the first day of the Lost Paradise festival before Joshua Tam, 22, was brought in on a stretcher about 6.15pm on December 29, incoherent after being found lying in grass.

His temperature was a lethal 43C before he was cooled down to 40.4C. It was believed he had taken five or six MDMA capsules and had drunk a litre of vodka smuggled into the festival.

Dr Sura said he had expected to be dealing with snake bites, problems from the heat and some drug problems but he had "no experience" in treating adverse reactions to MDMA.

Joshua Tam, 22, died after it’s believed he took five or six MDMA capsules and drunk a litre of vodka.
Joshua Tam, 22, died after it’s believed he took five or six MDMA capsules and drunk a litre of vodka.

NSW Ambulance intensive care paramedic Mark Wheatley was one of two ambulance officers contracted to the festival and he thought they were "a bit under resourced".

"It was a fairly chaotic scene," he said.

Mr Wheatley took over Mr Tam's care from Dr Sura, giving him ketamine to calm him down. In the ambulance on the way to Gosford Hospital, he went into cardiac arrest and was given adrenaline. He died at the hospital.

Lost Paradise festival owner Simon Beckingham said EMS had been used for four of the five years the festival had been running and said no one had raised any concerns about ­having just one doctor.

He said EMS had to be able to deal with an acute medical crisis, drug emergencies and provide acute medical care.



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