Australia

Family puts on brave face at inquest into deaths at NSW music festivals

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The only doctor working the opening days of a NSW music festival wasn't capable of treating life-threatening MDMA overdoses, he has told an inquest.

Putting on a brave face on day six of a two-week coronial inquest, John and Julie Tam are using their heartbreak to spark change. 

Their son Joshua Tam, a 22-year-old who died at the Central Coast festival, is one of six young people whose recent MDMA-related deaths at NSW music festivals are being examined. 

"When our son Josh passed away we made the decision to try and make something positive come from to us what was the absolute worst thing that could or would ever happen to our family," Mrs Tam said. 

Josh Tam's family is using their story to educate young people to made informed decisions at music festivals.
Josh Tam's family is using their story to educate young people to made informed decisions at music festivals.

It's been an overwhelming amount of information for the families to digest while they mourn their children. 

"We could have just gone away and shielded ourselves in our grief," Mrs Tam added. 

"That would have been much simpler and much kinder to ourselves. Instead, in his honour, we open our lives and our grief and our boy's memory to discussion.

John and Julie Tam, parents of Joshua Tam  who died at Lost Paradise music festival in 2018, speak to the media outside of The Coroner's Court of NSW.
John and Julie Tam, parents of Joshua Tam who died at Lost Paradise music festival in 2018, speak to the media outside of The Coroner's Court of NSW.
AAP

"Perhaps it may just save one other young person."

Doctor 'couldn't treat' severe MDMA overdoses

The only doctor rostered to work the first two days of the NSW music festival has admitted in court he wasn't capable of treating life-threatening MDMA overdoses.

Krishna Sura, a Sydney general practitioner by day, said he became concerned about how he'd manage the medical tent as the temperature approached 40C at the Lost Paradise festival in December 2018.

Dr Krishna Sura, who worked at the Lost Paradise music festival
Dr Krishna Sura says he wasn't capable of treating life-threatening MDMA overdoses at a festival. (AAP)
AAP

Dr Sura said he hadn't worked in an emergency department for eight years and was "not at all" capable of putting tubes down someone's throat unsupervised or dealing with other elements of a life-threatening MDMA overdose.

He said he raised these issues with Mike Hammond, the director of the festival's contracted medical provider Event Medical Services.

"(He told me) that won't be required as there will be intensive care paramedics on site," the Mascot GP told the inquest on Monday.

"I think they were struggling to get doctors ... (as) he requested I work at this festival."

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Dr Sura said he was unaware of another doctor being on site between the end of his first shift at 2.30am on 29 December and his next shift at 1pm.

That second shift began two hours early as Dr Sura was already being asked questions by paramedics and "felt it was unfair for them to manage this without me", he said.

Mr Tam arrived at the tent critically ill with a temperature of 43C and a heart rate of 190 beats per minute about 6.15pm.

He later died in Gosford Hospital.

Diana Nguyen and Joseph Pham both died after taking MDMA at the Defqon festival in September last year.
Diana Nguyen and Joseph Pham both died after taking MDMA at the Defqon festival in September last year.
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EMS was also the medical provider at Sydney music festival Defqon.1 where Melbourne woman Diana Nguyen, 21, and Sydney man Joseph Pham, 23, died after taking MDMA and presenting unconscious to the medical tent

Sean Wing, who treated Mr Pham for six minutes before handing control to others in order to treat Ms Nguyen, said the situation was chaotic but he wasn't personally overwhelmed.

"For some people, it was overwhelming," he told the NSW Coroners Court on Monday.

"It was a chaotic environment but I don't know it was overwhelming (for me)."

The inquest continues. 

Joshua's parents John and Julie Tam speak to media outside The Coroner's Court of New South Wales during the inquest.
Joshua's parents John and Julie Tam speak to media outside The Coroner's Court of New South Wales during inquest hearings last week.
AAP

Just Mossin' 

Mr Tam's parents have launched the non-profit organisation Just Mossin' after their son's favourite saying.

Mossin' is slang for chilling. 

Their goal is to open up channels of communication through education and are hoping increased safety measures will bring about more informed decision making in Australia's youth.

John and Julie Tam comfort other attendees at the inquest into the deaths of six young people at music festivals from 2017-19.
John and Julie Tam comfort other attendees at the inquest into the deaths of six young people at music festivals from 2017-19.
AAP

Just Mossin' aims to not only be a collective voice to lobby governments for legislative changes but to design and implement smart personal safety devices (PSD's) for revellers at festivals and events.

"We are not ignorant to the fact that nothing will eliminate this dangerous risk that seems to be the norm for this generation," Mrs Tam said.

"But if we can minimise harm and reduce the number of those who may decide or not to take this risk that’s a good thing right?" 

- With additional reporting from AAP

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