This article was reported by Globe Correspondents Jennifer Smith, Todd Feathers, Zachary T. Sampson, Jeremy C. Fox, and Claire McNeill. It was written by Smith.
Dozens of concertgoers, many of them minors, were taken to hospitals from the TD Garden Wednesday night suffering mainly from drug and alcohol problems, authorities said.
Michael Bosse, deputy superintendent for Boston EMS, said at the scene that over 50 people were treated or evaluated at the scene, and 36 other patients were transported to hospitals from the Garden. There were no fatalities, and all of the patients’ symptoms were minor, an EMS worker said.
The medical problems happened during a packed and steamy electronic dance concert featuring the Grammy-nominated electronic dance music DJ Avicii.
The concert took on heightened urgency when medical emergency services declared a Phase 2 MCI, indicating about 30 people needed to be taken to hospitals. There were numerous ambulances and a Boston EMS emergency trailer, along with Boston police, at the scene.
Mike Santostefano, 19, of Millis, said he saw three young women being carried out on stretchers.
“You couldn’t breathe if you were on the floor,” he said. “It was the best and worst time ever.”
He said he saw “a lot of people who couldn’t handle themselves. People who don’t do drugs come here and do drugs.”
Wednesday’s concert marked the opening of the Swedish DJ’s tour in the eastern United States and Europe, scheduled to end in Spain in September. At a May Avicii concert in Toronto, 29 people were reportedly hospitalized with various degrees of health problems, according to the local media there.
As medical personnel loaded patients into ambulances in Boston, the concert, which was scheduled to end at 11 p.m., was still going on inside the Garden.
“We did tell them this has to end on time due to medical incidents,” said Boston police Superintendent in Chief William G. Gross, who was also at the scene.
Roisin Saratonion, 18, left the concert earlier than planned because “it was just too crazy in there.”
Saratonion, of Marblehead, said most concertgoers seemed like they were high school-aged.
“You get really hot in there and you just pass out. You couldn’t breathe,” she said. “It was claustrophobic. People get dehydrated.”
Whether the drug Molly was a contributing factor, as it has been in past medical events at concerts, in Wednesday’s illnesses was uncertain, according to Gross. Bosse added, “there may have been some illicit drug involved, but none have been identified.”
Boston EMS responded to the Garden at about 8:30 p.m. after calls for two people in need of medical assistance outside. Private ambulances transported the majority of the patients.
Police are investigating and are speaking with officials for TD Garden, Gross said. Officials at the Garden could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
According to Gross, large incidents involving drug and alcohol problems are common at techno concerts. “We’ve seen this type of behavior, alcohol, abuse of other drugs, before, “ Gross said.
He said the concertgoers mostly ranged in age from 16 to 25. Police plan to interview concertgoers at the hospitals.
Drug and alcohol overuse at EDM — electronic dance music — concerts have prompted increased scrutiny in recent years.
Employees at the House of Blues in Boston were called to explain three drug overdoses that occurred on Aug. 27, the opening tour night of another EDM DJ, Zedd. A 19-year-old woman died at that concert of a suspected overdose of Molly.
Two others at the concert were also treated for apparent overdoses and were hospitalized in serious condition.
In the glow of emergency lights outside the Garden Wednesday, groups of young people stood on the sidewalk after leaving the show early. Around 10:30 p.m., people said, Avicii was still playing, and it had not seemed different from a typical concert.
“I saw a few people who were passed out, and they took them out on ambulances, and that’s it,” said Matt McLaughlin, 18, of Norwell.
Most people, he said, seemed drunk, but he also saw some people taking what he believed were drugs.
Matt Mogavero, 18, of Peabody, said most people seemed like they had probably just drank before the show.
“I bet there were rock and roll concerts in the ‘70s that were more out of hand than this,” he said.
Pam Jones, 52, and Richard Uloth, 48, of Scituate, were eating in the North End while their 15-year-old daughter and a friend attended the concert.
They heard about an incident at the Garden and ran down. At first, Jones said, they could not reach their daughter on her cellphone.
The couple ran to security at the arena and tried their daughter one more time on her phone, Jones said. She answered and said she was fine.
“I’m going to give her a big hug,” Jones said.
Steve Watkins, 28, of the North End, said his friend got tickets to the show but he left early because the crowd was pretty young.
“It’s too bad that people can’t just come to a concert like this and enjoy the music for what it is,” Watkins said.
Leaving the Garden, many seemed unaware of or unfazed by the large number of people who became ill. One group of men emerged from the building clapping rhythmically and chanting, “Let’s go Bruins.”