Risk, Safety, and Crowd Management for Concert Disasters
Globally, crowd disasters take place every year. The disasters mostly occur due to the relentless behaviors of ignorant people. Additionally, individual’s psychological state caused by panic contribute to most crowd disasters as people become confounded and stop controlling their actions. According to Pin et al. (290), crowd forces can reach levels that are not possible to control or resist. Typically, all the deaths caused by crowds result from compressive asphyxia. The authors add that the deaths are not caused by trampling as alleged by most writers and the media. Compressive asphyxia occurs in cases when individuals are stacked up horizontally by the leaning and pushing forces. The asphyxia can also be caused by people being stacked up vertically as people lie or climb on top of each other. For instance, in the incident of the Ibrox Park soccer stadium, the reports from the police indicated that the people that piled above each other were 3 meters high. Consequently, at such heights, the pressure on the individuals at the bottom may affect them greatly.
Incidents of Management Failures
- At least 14 Individuals Died in Stamped on 25 April 2014 in Democratic Republic of Congo.
During a tribute festival for a common African music star, approximately 14 people lost their lives in the incident. Two police officers were among the people who died. People had gathered to have a party as a way of celebrating one of the innovative and popular Congolese singers. The singer died in February in Paris. People who attended the festival enthusiastically pushed each other to have a better view of what was occurring. It led to damage of property, as well as the death of the 14 people. According to Still (33), thousands of people had attended the festival of the singer after he had passed away in the result of heart problems.
- The Death of 36 People and 42 injured at the Crush that Occurred at the Riverfront of the Chinese City on 31 Dec 2014.
At that day, many people rushed to collect money thrown from a nightclub. The money was thrown as a mean of celebrating the eve of New Year. The stampede killed approximately 36 people. Indeed, it was termed as one of the worst disasters that hit China in the recent past. Over 40 people were also injured in the incident as thousands of individuals entered the popular riverfront area in Shanghai for the event of the annual light show. According Still (41), the stampede commenced at 11:35. Money was then thrown from a balcony and people rushed to grab them. The money was allegedly fake notes according to one of the reporters who were involved in the incident.
- Fire that occurred at a Nightclub Killed over 200 people in Brazil in 27 January 2013.
More than 200 people died in a fire that started in the nightclub in Brazil during a band performance, when the building was accidentally set on fire as a result of using fireworks. As a result, the people fleeing the fire were not able to trace the emergency exit. It caused the stampede as people piled on each other resulting in deaths of over 200 people (Still 88). Most of the people in the incident died because they were trampled. Asphyxiation was also another cause of the increased number of deaths. Sources also revealed that there were over 500 people in the club at the time of incident. The television footage also indicated that the firefighters utilized axes and sledge hammers to destroy the exterior wall to create exit for people. Additionally, there was also smoke that prevented the victims from running away because they could not see properly. According to Alnabulsi and John (45), the fire had spread very fast and people did not have enough time to react on the situation properly.
Crowd Management Failures
Controlling crowds in an event is very hard because people cause pressure and force as they rush for safety or space. Indeed, psychologists compare crowd to different intermeshing cells. Every cell in the intermeshed series is made of groups of surrounding individuals who have limited communication among them. According to Alnabulsi and John (47), the cell members rarely have a broad view of the situation in the crowd. One of the dominant cell members might influence the collective cell behavior. It creates cell-to-cell chain, notably with spread of incorrect information or rumors that potentially influence collective behaviors of the people involved in the cell.
Accordingly, the cell members rarely have a broad view of the situation in the crowd and a dominant member may influence the other members who exhibit lack of back or front communication. As a result, the people at the back of the crowd tend to press the people in front as those standing in the front side experience severe distress. The process of flow majorly causes such situation. Normally, the security personnel try to compel the people in the front as they urge individuals not to move. Such kind of controlling the crowd is typically not effective when controlling the crowd and should never be used because it leads to most crowd management failures (Drury and Stott 77). For instance, the security personnel who tried to control the crowd with force enhanced the high number of individuals’ deaths at the crush that occurred at the Riverfront of the Chinese City on 31 Dec 2014.
Nonetheless, it is worth noting that there are various motivations for crowd incidents. In some instances, interruption of the traffic processes, such as passenger conveyor or exiting stadium, result in serious crowd pressure point. As a result, some of the members become extremely anxious and engage in flight response. Flight response may be caused when people experience threat. In such incidences, mutual assistance and cooperation is exhibited among the members in the group but not destructive behavior. In the case of the fire that started in the club in Brazil in 27 January 2013, lack of coordination resulted in the increased number of injuries. The staff members were not able to direct the crowd members towards the direction of the exits. As a result, many people started pressing against each other. Such even made the situation worse for the rescue team.
In cases of mass gatherings, people rash to obtain valued objective, especially when they are participating in an event or watching something in a crowd. For instance, in a concert people may rash to obtain better seats. In such cases, the crowd should be managed properly. Otherwise, the situation may occur, which will lead to crowd disasters (Mitchell & Dimitrinka 243). For instance, in the stampede that killed people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the fans were enthusiastically rushing to see what was occurring in the festival. Unfortunately, the present staff members were not able to predict the adverse effect of compiling pressure from the mob. They were too late to start controlling the crowd. The deaths would have been prevented if the staffs acted on time. Indeed, rather than control the crowds in a slow and understandable manner, the security personnel tried to scare and threat some of the members. It was ineffective because the scared people rushed towards the opposite direction exerting more pressure to the people on the other end. Such acts led to crowd disasters that killed 14 people and caused different injuries for many others.
Consequently, it becomes difficult to manage the crowd due to a number of factors, such as lack of information, space, and time.
The information passed to the individual plays a great role in managing crowd disasters. It becomes very difficult to control crowd moving in a certain direction. The means used to communicate to the members in crowd, therefore, play a big role. The information passed may be represented in different forms, such as sounds, signs or any other means that affects individual’s perception of the incident (Fire Protection Association 49).
The capacity, configuration, as well as the traffic processing capabilities of the things assembled in a meeting point play a great role. The management of a crowd becomes complicated if the space for controlling the crowd is limited. To manage crowd appropriately, there is a need to have enough space for seating, as well as standing. Moreover, there should be enough space for exit in case of danger. The spaces for the doors, ramps, corridors, and the escalators should be big enough to allow movement of people.
In most cases, it requires much time to maintain the tension caused in a crowd. The people under control in most cases wait until the situation becomes uncontrollable (Pin et al. 290). Consequently, the crowd effect should be controlled before the situation becomes worse. Additionally, the rate at which people enter into an event should be controlled considerably to avoid overcrowding, as well as stress in the available space.
Contrast and Comparisons with Concerts and Festivals that are well Managed and Planned
In well-managed festivals and concerts, the crowd is controlled at the entry point. The staff members ensure that there is no stress or pressure caused to the people entering the function. Additionally, it is necessary to provide enough spaces to each individual. It allows free space for various movements of the members of a crowd. As a result, there will be an order in the way people move from one area to the other. For instance, in the concert performed by Bob Marley with the Wailers at the Chicago’s Uptown Theatre in 1980 was a success due to the coordination that took place at the door. Issuing of tickets was also properly controlled as people used different exit and entry routes.
Additionally, in a well-planned concert, the space required for standing or sitting is also adequate to allow movement of people. In case of crowd disaster, the people in charge of the event should control the situation before it become serious. The people likely to cause chaos and disruptions in the event are also monitored to ensure that the events are performed with limited disruptions. A good example is the concert performed by Nicki Minaj, Usher, Beyoncé and Rick Ross as a series of collaboration in the tidal show. The whole concert was a success despite having several musicians presenting that night. It was caused by the fact that there was enough space for dancing. The entry and exit doors were also wide enough to allow free movement of people. Indeed, the cases of youths who wanted to disrupt the concert were efficiently managed and the concert proceeded undisturbed.
Strategies and Solutions that Mitigate the Risk as well as Estimating the Potential Costs Involved
Most crowd disasters can easily be prevented by crowd management strategies. The key to maintaining crowd disasters is avoidance of facets that cause faster movement of the crowd, as well critical crowd densities. To mitigate the risks connected to crowd disasters, the people in charge of an event should ensure that there is proper crowd control and crowd management. Crowd management involves systematic planning for orderly assembly or movement of people (Tong 56). On the other hand, crowd control involves limiting the behaviors of the people in a crowd.
Through crowd management, the people in charge of an event ensure that there is enough space allocated for the event, as well as the space of the processing procedure is adequate. For instance, the space required for processing the tickets should be enough. It reduces the commotion at the entry point. The crowd control at times can be part of the crowd management. It involves extreme measures to enhance order in the crowd, such as arrests or force to ensure that the crowd is calm.
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that inappropriate crowd control can precipitate the incident rather than prevent crowd disaster.
Additionally, there is a need for the crowd managers to gather enough information concerning a venue, as well as the number of people occupying the venue. The nature of the group should also be assessed. It enables the managers to plan for occupancy, rates of processing fallibilities, available staffing, as well as the means required for communication between the staff and the crowd members.
- Nature of crowd.
Different events attract different participants. There are people who come to the event peacefully to enjoy it, while some other people may behave as predators who come to look for victims, as well as the people with varied social and psychological agendas. The staff is supposed to constantly monitor the behaviors of the crowd. Indeed, according to Al-Kodmany (46), proactive kind of management is imperative. The staff should anticipate and solve problems before they occur rather than taking actions when a crowd disaster has already taken place.
- Crowd Management Center.
Real time communication about the place chosen for managing the crowd is very critical. There should be centralized place for managing the crowd in the event of any disaster. The areas chosen for such purpose should have good view of the venue. In addition, if possible, camera movement pathways, as well as pressure points should supplement the crowd management areas. Proper communications and coordination between the staff should also be offered in all avenues. For instance, there should be coordination between the staff, medical officers, police, and any media that can offer information in case of unexpected events.
- Training of Staff Members.
The staff in the event should be trained on the different ways of handling the crowd in the event of crowd disaster. The staff members should understand how to control different crowd behaviors. The training is supposed to entail instructions concerning the emergency movement of the crowd, handling of the victims in an incident, the procedures required in communicating the incident, as well as the equipment required for communication. The staff should also be trained on how to avoid factors that cause commotion.
Recent Attempts by the Concert Industry to Solve these Problems, such as the -Event Safety Alliance
The concert industry has tried to reduce the incidences of crowd disaster via different means. For instance, through the Event Safety Alliance (ESA), the concert industry organizes summits, such as safety conferences that offer opportunities for training. It has been providing the necessary knowledge and tools needed to meet the different demands of crowd events. Indeed, ESA has been examining live events in the concert industry, as well as offering the best practices for overcoming crowd disasters. Normally, ESA works with numerous presenters in an event who enlighten people on different aspects of event safety.
Crowd disasters can be prevented if the event organizers use the management and planning techniques. Moreover, reliable communication between the people in charge of the crowd management, as well as between the individuals in the crowd is imperative. Communication helps control the movement of people within the crowd. Additionally, it enhances coordination of people operating in the place of incident. Most of the crowd disasters discussed above would have been prevented if the crowd planning and coordination had been done appropriately. It is very unfortunate that the staff members wait until the last minutes to start mitigating the crowd disaster, when the situation becomes out of control. For instance, the 14 people who died in the Democratic Republic of Congo stampede resulted from lack of initial planning of the event. Therefore, it is imperative for the planners of the events and concerts to ensure that everything is in order before hosting them.