The Austin Police Department released a public safety alert last week warning of a potentially lethal batch of MDMA, also known as molly or ecstasy, being sold in the Austin area.
The alert came when an overdose patient died after being transported to Dell Seton Medical Center with two other patients, according to APD.
UT Police Department Sgt. Chris Vela said one of the biggest concerns for the UTPD is when narcotics found on the street are mixed with other additives.
“What’s kind of scary about this particular time is that it’s so closely tied to the ACL music festival,” said Dr. Chris Ziebell, emergency department medical director at Dell Seton Medical Center. “If we have a tainted drug out there, and somebody’s pretty drug-naïve, they could really get in trouble.”
Ziebell said it is common for street drug vendors to put something else in a drug they are selling if they begin running low on supply.
Ziebell said people who do not normally use drugs might see the weekends at Austin City Limits Music Festival as an opportunity to use them. Vela said people often use MDMA, or ecstasy, in the concert and music scene.
Ziebell said the biggest sign of a drug user in medical distress is an alteration in consciousness, either partial or complete loss of consciousness. Some drugs cause drops in blood pressure or heart rate or can cause shallow breathing, Ziebell said. He said if these symptoms are observed, bystanders should call for help right away.
Vela said police are trained to look for incoherence in people because it may be a sign that someone has taken or ingested a dangerous level of drugs or have used more than one drug.
“Unfortunately, that’s what we really see happening a lot is the polydrug use, where folks are using multiple drugs and/or alcohol, and it just intensifies the effects,” Vela said.
Vela said student amnesty for alcohol and drug emergenices is in full effect at UT. If a student calls 911, UTPD will not pursue criminal charges, and while the case will go to the Dean of Students Office for review, students are protected from administrative penalties.
“At the end of the day, we don’t want anybody’s life to (be put in) jeopardy because of added fear that they’re going to get in trouble criminally or with the University,” Vela said. “To me, that’s huge.”
The police are asking anyone with information to call the Narcotics Tip Line at 512 974-8600.