You know the feeling – the atmosphere buzzing with excitement, crowds of fans eagerly awaiting entry to a stadium event, tickets in hand to see a long-awaited sports match or music concert. Thousands gathered, with the same reason to be there, creates an electrifying experience unique to every large event. But beware, with large crowds come great risks that can lead to devastating tragedy. The safety of your guests is always a priority and spending extra time devising your crowd control process will always be worth it. With adequate planning and strategies in place, many past event disasters may have been prevented.
Determined to wrap up their 1969 World Tour with an epic performance, The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger unexpectedly announced a free concert festival, after their last scheduled appearance in New York, in a yet to be determined location near San Francisco. This was at the height of The Stones’ popularity and there was no time to plan an event of the expected scale. The band’s manager secured an empty field, 20 hours before the event, next to a dilapidated raceway as the location for the free concert. A four-foot-high stage was built. The Hell’s Angels Outlaw Motorcycle Club was hired as security and paid in beer. 300 000 fans arrived, many already intoxicated or high on psychedelic hallucinogens. What could have been a second Woodstock Festival of peace and love turned into a violent mess. Countless concert goers, and band members, were injured in physical assaults, mostly inflicted by “Security” and at least 3 people lost their lives. An 18-year-old man was stabbed to death by a Hell’s Angel and 2 others were killed when a man high on LSD crashed into them after stealing a car.
Passionate sports fans have the power to push a losing team to the glory of winning. But when eager fans are missing the start of a long-awaited FA cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, due to inadequate crowd control measures, that same energy has to escape somehow. This overcrowded event was a disaster waiting to happen, with an inexperienced planner tasked with crowd control at a sold-out event. Hundreds of fans forced their way into an already crowded standing pen-unaware that there was no space for them. The crush resulted in 96 deaths, mostly to compression asphyxia, and 766 non-fatal injuries. Initial blame was placed on crowd hooliganism by the police, but years after the incident a 2-year inquest can finally lay the matter to rest. According to the jury in the inquests, police errors in planning, defects at the stadium and delays in emergency response all contributed to the disaster. The behaviour of fans was not to blame.
Expecting a large crowd at your next event?
Crowd control starts early in the planning process when an adequate venue is secured for the number of visitors expected. New technology enables fast mobile check-in that keep crowds moving, ensuring a steady flow of traffic. Event Farm, a popular blog, advises that a designated “Solutions” person be appointed to ensure small issues do not become crowd control issues. Sometimes it is as simple as cordoning off certain areas or nudging crowds in the desired direction with basic equipment such as decorative posts and ropes, retractable stanchions and clear signage. Your entire crew, not only the security team, must be certain of processes to follow should a fight or fire break out.
Any event is only successful if those in attendance enjoy themselves. Keep your guests happy by planning for the unforeseen. Devising a crowd control strategy doesn’t have to be a daunting task. You can find the expert advice you need for your next big event at Eventerprise.com.