NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Organizers of this year’s Electric Zoo Festival on Randall’s Island are unveiling new safety measures for partygoers.
Last year, two attendees died of drug-related causes and the third day of the festival was canceled due to health concerns.
Electric Zoo officials said Friday they were beefing up plainclothes security and using off-duty and former NYPD officers with a background in drug investigations.
As part of the new measures, cameras watched over the crowd from up high and security will check arrivals for dilated pupils and slurred speech, WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported.
If they seemed high, they were to be turned away, CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported.
Medical students and EMTs, who have been dubbed “zoo keepers,” were to move through the crowd looking for trouble with an app that can send exact coordinates and summon help, Murnane reported.
Eye drops, deodorant, e-cigarettes and candy were on the list of banned items at this year’s festival and organizer’s said they’re considering an amnesty bin to collect illegal substances at the gate with no questions asked, Murnane reported.
The festival was wrapping up its first night Friday, and will run through Sunday. Organizers will shorten the length of each day’s show by two hours. And Electric Zoo will provide electrolytes for free.
“It’s always safe to be extra safe, but people are still going to do what they want to do,” festival-goer Nick Kerby said.
Ticket buyers also had to watch a 2-minute video about MDMA, sometimes referred to as molly, if they want to get in.
GALLERY: Electric Zoo Music Festival 2013
Festival spokesman Stefan Friedman said the video will contain a code that will be used to activate festivalgoers’ wristbands, so they won’t be admitted unless they have watched it.
The video, titled “Electric Zoo: Come To Life,” shows a man at a concert rubbing a powder on his gums and becoming increasingly sweaty and incoherent.
“You can’t put a price on life, so we’ve spent whatever it takes this year to keep our fan base safe,” Electric Zoo spokesperson Stefan Friedman told CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes, “From when you get on the bus, get on the ferry, someone’s gonna take a look, see if you have contraband, see if you look well. When you come to the security gates you’re gonna have a full pat-down, TSA style search.”
The New York City Medical Examiner’s office said Jeffrey Russ, 23, and Olivia Rotondo, 20, died from an overdose of the drug MDMA combined with hyperthermia.
Last month, Patrick Morgan, 23, of Buffalo, was charged with one count of conspiring to distribute narcotics and another count of distributing narcotics in connection with Russ’ death.
This year, the event is drawing thousands of people from all over, 1010 WINS’ Derrick Dennis reported.
“End of the summer, we’re going to end it with a bang,” one concert-goer from Whitestone, Queens told 1010 WINS’ Derrick Dennis.
“You get all sorts of different people out here and everyone just having a good time,” another attendee from the Upper West Side said.
In addition to an increase in medical personnel on site there will also be a cooling tunnel that concert goers can walk through for a blast of cool air.
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