Can BUDDY Help Us Beat Festival Fatalities?

"The community is always willing to look out for each other and BUDDY will help attendees to do that"
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"The community is always willing to look out for each other and BUDDY will help attendees to do that"
Tempe Summer Music Festival 2015 BUDDY

A medical emergency ended last year's edition of Tempe Summer. Photo Credit: David Kadlubowski/The Republic.

Drug-related deaths are nothing new to the rave scene, but in the festival boom of recent years they've seen a disconcerting spike. Amid conversations about staff shortcomings and harm reduction that often seem to go in circles, however, a new name has found its way into the dialogue: BUDDY.

A Los Angeles team working closely with the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) and Electronic Music Alliance (EMA) has launched BUDDY, a system intended to streamline emergency response at large-scale live music events. The technology is intended to shorten response times of medical personnel by using SMS text messages to notify them of emergencies.

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Each attendee of a festival using BUDDY will be issued an admission bracelet that's assigned a six-digit code. In the event that the attendee is injured or loses consciousness, another attendee can text their code to medical teams who will then be able to pinpoint their specific location.

As ingenious as it is, the proposed functionality raises one important question: In the context of massives like EDC Las Vegas at which cell phone towers are so heavily taxed that text messages can be delayed by upwards of an hour, will that additional wait time be imposed on each BUDDY SMS as well? While such a hurdle doesn't seem like enough to scrap the entire concept, it would certainly behoove BUDDY's developers to find a way around it.

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Regardless, it's refreshing to see a solution to the issue of festival fatalities that doesn't demonize electronic music culture - especially considering that some of those at the helm have experienced loss of loved ones at raves. ‘The idea is to dramatically cut the response time down, getting to people at risk sooner so we can treat them effectively," said BUDDY CEO Kim Knight. "I lost a friend at a young age at a rave, ever since I have always thought, 'What more could we of done?' I think we as a community need to protect our scene and work together; it’s not a time for pointing fingers, it’s about being a connected society."

"What I like about BUDDY is that it not only holds the promise of providing an efficient technology to reduce response time for our industry," said EMA Executive Director Janine Jordan, "but that it will give fans the power and assurance that they can effectively do something for someone that might be having a health crisis"

With any luck, the 2017 festival circuit will see BUDDY implemented at large-scale live music events across the globe - and unnecessary deaths will taper down as a result. For more information, visit the company website.