Safety In Numbers…

The old saying there is safety in numbers doesn’t always hold true. In Germany this weekend 80 people were injured and 18 killed when things got out of control at a music festival. Sheer weight of the crowd no doubt played a major part in the tragedy, I have felt the crush of thousands of people when performing security duties at major public events and it is frightening. When you realise how quickly things can go horribly wrong and people can die, it makes it prudent ot rethink your strategy about any event whre rthere are likely to be large numbers of people.

In the case of this event there was just the one entrance, a tunnel, for 1.4 million people to funnel through. When the venue became full the organizers stopped anymore getting in and told them to turn around and go back. Back down a tunnel that still had thousands of people coming forwards. Apparently it all fell apart when a barrier collapsed and people tried to escape out the sides and panic set in.

What happens in these situations is that the body is crushed by the sheer weight of the thousands of other bodies pressing in with no outlet sufficient to keep up a flow of people exiting the choke point. The person has insufficient space to expand their chests and keep breathing and if they lose their footing they are trampled upon, often by people either unaware of what they are doing in the tight press of the crowd or unable to avoid doing it. It truly is a nightmare scenario.

When you throw in the stupidity of many people, the arrogance and selfishness we humans tend to display, then there is no give and take, its all give until something major has to give and people start to suffocate. By far the best advice is to avoid crowd situations. If you must attend such events, go early or accept a position on the fringe and take binoculars. Most people die pressed against the security fence keeping them back from the stage. When the mob mentality hits and everyone surges forward to be closer to their idols, people get crushed. If you are tall and solid you have a chance so long as you stay upright. Small and more fragile people quickly succumb.

If you are caught in such a surge, try to remain calm and make some space around you with your hands clasped in front of you and your elbows out, give your chest room to work. Take short steps and try to move to the sides of the crowd, avoid being caught in the middle but if there is a wall on the side, avoid it as you don’t want to be pinned against an immovable object. You can’t hold back thousands of people pressing on you.

Crowd scenarios are worse in closed venues, where there is noise and disorienting lights such as night clubs and also where there is alcohol and drugs present. Pretty much any entertainment venue young people frequent. You need to weigh up how important being cool and hip is compared to alive, but of course anyone under 30 is bullet proof. I know I was.

Comments are closed.

Recent Posts