The ‘Lolla Lift’ in the ER: Doctors prepare for onslaught of underage drinkers

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On the Medical Watch: The festival effect in the ER.

Shocking statistics from Lollapalooza weekend last year have doctors scrambling to prepare to care for teens this year.

The music and the heat mix with long stretches standing and in many cases drinking alcohol not rehydrating water. The effect is frightening.

“There’s a lot of vomiting, a lot of emotional outbursts and some behavioral aggression problems,” says Dr Karen Mangold of Lurie Children’s Emergency Medicine. “There are some kids who get so sick they have altered mental status even to the point of being unconscious. … They can have some respiratory depression as well so they can end up not breathing which is quite dangerous.”

Also factored in are 100,000 people a day over four days this year and it’s a recipe for a packed emergency room.
So more than a week in advance, ER staff at Lurie’s is doing a drill to make sure everyone is on point when the patients start pouring in.

“We see a huge increase in our numbers,” Dr Mangold says. “About nine times what we normally see on a weekend will come in to our emergency department.”

The drill included actors mimicking drunk teens and on Lolla weekend, the real deal as staff has to step up to care for the masses.

To make sure everyone understands the gravity of Lolla weekend, Lurie Children’s Hospital made a graphic that shows aclear representation of the “Lolla Lift.”

Chicago's Worst Weekends for Underage Drinking

Chicago's Worst Weekends for Underage Drinking (Photo source:

Lolla also gives out wrist bands with a place for emergency contact information. Doctors urge people to register them correctly. Also have ICE – in case of emergency – contacts updated and correct on your phone.

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