Local authorities in Los Angeles have woken up to the dangers posed by raves and have proposed to set up a task force to study the health and safety hazards involved.
The proposal by county Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe to set up the task force comes in the wake of the death of Sasha Rodriguez after the Electric Daisy Carnival the weekend of June 26. Scores of others who took part in the festival were sickened.
Raves are massive dance parties featuring electronic music closely associated with use of Ecstasy, a hallucinogen and stimulant. Health officials and physicians have voiced alarm in the increasing use of the drug in Los Angeles County. The directors of several emergency rooms near the Coliseum have described how their hospitals are routinely overloaded with drug overdose patients following massive raves.
"This issue of Ecstasy use is becoming an increasing public health problem," Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the county Department of Public Health said. "We're very concerned because ... the most recent survey shows that more youth think that this drug has not really serious effects. They're kind of feeling, 'Well, this is not really a big deal,'" Fielding said, even though about 120 people from the rave were transported by ambulance to nearby emergency rooms, mostly for suspected drug overdoses.
Supervisor Yaroslavsky said the task force, which is to be comprised of local city officials, law enforcement agencies, hospitals, the county emergency medical services agency, youth and rave producers, among others, needs to inform and educate the public on this issue.
"There is no way a 15- or 16-year-old truly appreciates what the risks are," Yaroslavsky said. "It's critical we inform the parents ... the schools and the young folks who are the targets of these concerts."
"I don't know why a parent would let their underage child go to one of these where it's going to be all night," wondered Dr. Jonathan Fielding. "You know, the chances are, they are going to be involved in drug use."
But a family spokesman has said that neither parent of the 15-year-old girl knew that she planned to attend the rave, which had a minimum age requirement of 16 unless accompanied by a legal guardian.
"We look forward to working with the task force examining electronic music event safety in the county of Los Angeles," said Simon Rust Lamb, a spokesman for Insomniac Inc., a rave promoter.
"I have reviewed the county's proposed resolution and I am pleased that the Board of Supervisors will be including representatives from the music event promotion industry as part of the task force.
"Industry representatives can work with the task force to better understand the realities of the electronic music event industry and help the task force with outreach to the industry as a whole."