Crowds are generally unavoidable occurrences of our daily life. Crowding happens as a result of unwarranted mass gathering of people in a particular area. Though, large numbers of people gather at shopping malls, railway stations and bus terminals etc. However they also get together in great numbers where a particular event is organised for special attractions for example sporting event, music concerts street festivals. During such events there is a huge risk to manage such huge crowd safely.
Berlin Love Parade was one such example of crowd mishap. It was estimated that around 1.4 million citizens gathered for this event when a stampede broke out due to panic among those gathered for the event which claimed the life of 19 innocents and around 245 citizens were seriously injured. It was one of disturbing accidents in human history when this tragedy broke out.
Background to the Issue:
According to several reports it is claimed that Berlin Love Stampede tragedy occurred as result of mass gathering for the event where thousands of citizens were found pushing through a tunnel which eventually led to the out brake of panic situations among the people. It is still unclear to many that what led to such outbreak of such situations among the crowds. However according to police reports most of the death occurred when the crowed were trying to escape from the crush at the bottom of the ramp, forced through the barricade and started climbing up on a shallow staircase which was near the entrance of the tunnel in an effort to gain right of entry to the nearby party ground. As a result of this few fell off the barricade which injected the atmosphere of panic among those who gathered for the event who were waiting down below for their chance to climb up the staircase for access to the nearby party ground.
According to some eye-witness, event organisers at one point had closed the main entrance where the venue for the party was organised but did not stopped people from entering into the tunnel. As a result of this people crushed each other who ever came in their way which fuelled both tempers and panic among the crowds. Several surveys have claimed that the place where event was organised only had the capacity of 250,000 peoples, a figure which is far low from 1.4 million people who have gathered.
Several news papers claimed that the situation was horrifying to see as the tunnel was filled with people who could barely move and lost their consciousness after the tunnel became so tight that people could hardly move into it. Everything was in complete mess as people fought for their survival as some had their leg squashed and people were screaming out of fear. According to several media reports there should be no premature verdicts about who should be held responsible for such tragedy as many editors held their opinion that the organisers have made fatal errors and overlooked the situation of safety of crowds which could have been avoided.
Identification of Problems:
Force: Crowd forces at certain occasion can reach a level which is almost impossible for organisers to control. Practically all such crowd death occurs due to the power or ability to compress concentration of oxygen in body which is accompanied by increase in the level of carbon dioxide thereby leading to death which is often reported by typical Medias. Incident of Love Parade Stampede was an example of crowd incident having a force of more than 1200 lbs. Forces occurs due to roughly pushing and the de facto effect of such mishap is people falling against each other at greater force.
Compression occurs when a huge number of crowd pile up upon each other, one climbing on top of one another or due to horizontal force of pushing from mass of bodies virtually leading to leaning forces. It was assumed that when such stampede happens people who are underneath would feel extreme pressure in chest of around 850-900 lbs anticipating that half of the intense weight was on upper part of the body.
Space: Crowds hardly gets any attention from Architects and engineers regarding the frequency of people in their design of building which is beyond the compliance of framework of architectural codes. It is always brought into the attention architects and engineers that code of compliance hardly meet the crowd management that estimated the maximum occupancy criteria of a space to be allocated for proper movement from stair case, corridors, ramps and escalators.
It is the responsibility of the event organisers of preparing a list of safety parameters regarding the movement capabilities of crowd and identifies the possible route of problems where the event organisers could accommodate emergency crowd movement through the help of stairs, corridors and escalators etc which are one of established source of crowd management.
Evaluation of multiple solutions to address the problems identified:
Majority of crowd related disasters can be prevented through the help of simple crowd management strategies. The primary criteria for managing crowds are to avoid the typical crowd volume and keeping a free flow of group movement.
Terminology: Crowd management can be defined as systematic management of crowd through planning and supervision of the assembled people. Crowd control can also be defined as restriction of crowd behavior. It consists of evaluation and analysis of projected level of space occupied by each mass of body. Crowd control is a part of crowd management plan on the happening of unplanned behavior of group of people arising out of certain problems.
It involves extreme enforcement of procedures to maintain regulation such as the use of force to arrest people or threatening of health injury. It generally consists of employing barriers which can be used as an alternative for creating space in order to create free flowing of group of people.
Setting up management Center: Real time information regarding the present status of crowd condition assembled for event helps in management of disaster. An organized crowd management and center of communications should be established for meeting up the critical situation. The idea of having a centralized communication system would allow maximum control of the center through establishing a video camera access to certain areas which are vulnerably exposed and creating wide pathways for free movement in order to release space.
It is necessary to establish a full communication and coordination between the event organizers, local police, volunteers and having proper facilities of fire and emergency exit along with medical service with on the site ambulance facilities. Having radio frequencies, telephone helpline number is significant terminology in managing crowd.
Staff Training: Staff training is a vital aspect of successful crowd management. It has been noticed that often casual people with improper training are appointed for managing crowd at large events. These employees do not receive proper instructions regarding how to control certain aspects of crowd behavior. Even those employees who are permanent often do not posses proper training regarding the identification of critical crowd behavior and handling of crowd.
Training of crowd should include basic instructions on how to manage the movement of crowd during emergency situations and initial handling of accident victims, training about the essentials of communications procedures and quick use of communications tools. All staff should be equipped with a speedy locating guide to strengthen training guiding principle and communication measures.
Responding to emergency: The event organizers should rapidly respond to accidents of crowd quickly with the help of proper trained personnel. They should prevent them from providing misleading information during outbreak of emergency. They are required to act collectively to control the panic stricken situation.
Creating a diversion of numerous routes away from the course of incidents is favored over blocked routes where hardly anyone can move. Thus it is the responsibility of the volunteers to summon employ emergency services immediately. Sufferers of compressive asphyxia can be avoided only if the rescue operation begins quickly.
Justification for the solution(s) or strategies which you consider to be most appropriate:
Planning and assessing risk is significant milestone in creating a trouble free environment. A safe and trouble free environment with good planning is essential. An event organiser must ensure that the precautions it takes to manage crowds are adequate enough to handle emergency situations through proper training of staff. As training enables event organisers to in thinking ahead as well as assessing the risk involve to develop and modify the plans.
On the other hand systematic assessment of risk identifies hazards which could be avoided affecting the safety of crowds through assessing the size of the problems and what needs to be done to meet the problems. This process of risk assessment is helpful in identifying the safety parameters depending upon the outcome of risk assessment.
Emergency planning procedures eliminates the issues of threat possessed from outbreak of fire or any personal injury threat to crowds. Such planning policies play a vital role in emergency situation rapid large-scale movement of crowd as the potentiality of overcrowding could be avoided.
The incident of crowd management model and its guidelines policies demonstrates that several such crowed disasters could be prevented only if quick planning and advance crowd management techniques are implemented. Proper training of volunteers focused on crowd controls is recommended for every such event organisers where mass gathering takes place and gets certified by law to have a certified crowd management employees. In order to avoid accidents it is best advised that event organisers must undergo formalised testing on the basics strategies of managing crowds and proper handling of emergencies.
Johansson, A., Batty, M., Hayashi, K., Al Bar, O., Marcozzi, D. and Memish, Z.A., 2012. Crowd and environmental management during mass gatherings. The Lancet infectious diseases, 12(2), pp.150-156.
Wijermans, N., Conrado, C., van Steen, M., Martella, C. and Li, J., 2016. A landscape of crowd-management support: An integrative approach. Safety Science, 86, pp.142-164.