LA County supervisors vote to create task force to examine raves

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Courtesy of Marcus Mendez

Thousands of attendees crowd the stage at the Electric Daisy Carnival rave at the Los Angeles Coliseum, June 25, 2010.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today agreed to create a multi-agency task force to examine health and safety concerns at rave-style events held at public venues.

The proposal by Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe comes just days after the death of a 15-year-old girl who attended the Electric Daisy Carnival at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum the weekend of June 26. Yaroslavsky sits on the board that runs the Coliseum.

Sasha Rodriguez stopped breathing at the event on June 27 and was taken off life support at California Hospital Medical Center a week ago today. She is believed to have taken the illegal drug ecstasy, but autopsy results are being withheld pending the completion of toxicology tests.

Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics handled 226 medical calls and took 114 people to hospitals. Drug overdoses and drunkenness were the primary problems, a spokesman said.

Video taken at the event also showed crowds of people storming fences to avoid the entry fee. Some people who attended the event also reported that workers at the gates were not checking the ages of attendees, despite the music festival being restricted to people at least 16 years old.

Sasha did not have identification when she was taken to the hospital, family members and friends told the Los Angeles Times.

"This issue of ecstasy is becoming an increasing public health problem,'' said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county's top health official, told the board. "The effect is basically to enhance mood and energy,'' he said, "... but taken in the kind of dosages in which it is ... it can lead to ... seizure, trauma, loss of body control.''

Ecstasy is supposed to be MDMA -- a compound that include methamphetamine -- but pills billed as ecstasy are sometimes mixed with other drugs.

Fielding said youths often underestimate the side effects of the methamphetamine, which also has psychotropic qualities.

The county will form a task force with officials from cities, law enforcement agencies, hospitals, the county Emergency Medical Services and Public Health commissions and community health providers to "identify the extent of public health concerns associated with rave parties.''

The task force would develop recommendations to enhance safety by requiring rave promoters to incorporate public health measures into the event planning. Possibilities include staffing events with private emergency medical personnel and sponsoring educational campaigns to warn of the dangers of raves.

The group is scheduled to return to the board with its recommendations in 120 days.

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