The coroner investigating the tragic ecstasy overdose of teenager Gemma Thoms at the 2009 Big Day Out plans to attend the music festival on Monday to get a first-hand insight into the running of the event and its facilities.
Dominic Mulligan is likely to inspect the Big Day Out's entry procedures, first aid facilities and other relevant services at the Claremont Showground, where up to 40,000 revellers are expected.
The inquest was told yesterday that St John Ambulance's resources would be significantly boosted at this year's event compared with 2009 when Gemma, 17, collapsed and later died after swallowing three ecstasy pills.
The coroner commended SJA's enhanced plans, which will now include a volunteer briefing that, unlike in 2009, will refer to dealing with possible drug-related cases.
SJA will provide three paramedics, as well as a registered nurse at each of the five first-aid posts and dozens of first-aid volunteers, at Monday's festival.
There were no SJA paramedics at the 2009 festival and the organisation was unaware that three interstate paramedics, contracted by event organisers, were stationed near the mosh pit that year.
SJA clinical services director Professor Ian Jacobs conceded mistakes were made when a basic first-aid volunteer did not pick up on Gemma's abnormal vital signs when she first visited a first-aid post about an hour before her collapse, but he stopped short of criticising the helper.
The inquest was told Gemma, who entered the event as an adult with fake identification, lied to first-aid volunteers about her age and drug use.
Professor Jacobs said it would be a sensible approach to tell patients to wait for further observations or risk being removed from the event. Volunteers did not take Gemma's temperature at any stage at the venue, with Professor Jacobs saying there was nothing stopping them from doing so. He said it was critical in ecstasy overdoses to control body temperature to avoid hyperthermia.
Mr Mulligan remarked it was "out of kilter" that according to the SJA's risk assessment model the Big Day Out was only technically a medium-risk event.
Professor Jacobs agreed it should be classed as a high-risk event.
Outside court, SJA service director Len Fiori said Gemma's death was a tragic loss but the organisation could not compel event organisers to have the level of first aid it believed was necessary for events.
"We would support regulation or legislation that would make large gatherings safer for patrons," he said.