The essay discusses the unfortunate incident of crowd stampede that took place in 2016 at the Grand Theatre Stage of the Lorne Falls Festival. The fans were rushing towards the exit after the musical band DMA’s completed their performance and lost footage eventually stampede each other. This incident left almost 60 people fatally injured and 20 hospitalised with fractures and bruises. The victims as well as other punters brutally criticised the fest management authority for not observing their responsibility properly.
The failure to assess the size of the revellers caused a lot of victims as well as damaged reputation of the Lorne Falls Festival organisers. According to well- documented evidences and statements of the witnesses, the organisers were solely responsible for this event disaster. The organisers faced lawsuit over the huge crowd crush and a dispute raised between the lawyers of victims and the authority.
The essay discusses the incident in detail, the experiences of the victims, the investigation process and brutal criticism that the fest authority faced from the victims. The essay concludes with the responses of the accused authority and various aspects of their proposed explanation.
In 30th December 2016 Lorne had witnessed a Festival disaster where the audience were crushed by crowd stampede and left 60 people injured. People were gasping for breath and many remained unconscious. The paramedical staffs had treated people with various injuries as a result of stampede. The incident occurred when the festival goers attempted to leave the performance of an Australian band DMA’. The investigation says a lot of people were trapped under the crowd for several minutes and grasping for air (Rodrigues Leal Moitinho de Almeida, 2016). Some were screaming for help. The rescuers then passed them out and slapped to bring consciousness. The survivors stated that the situation got chaotic suddenly and people were pushing through one another They were crying and totally shaken up (Kok, Lim & Chan, 2016). According to the police, the limitation of exit points was the reason of such phenomenon. The music fans were leaving the performance and the frontal group lost their footing and this is how the panic set in.
The investigation had been started when the sufferers questioned the number of exit points of the tent. People criticised the event management authorities for not designing enough exits according to the need of the size of the audience. The authority immediately suspended entertainment for the emergency situation and modified the exit points by removing a sizable section of the stage tent for the rest of days of the Falls Music and Arts festival. The situation had been investigated by Victoria's Emergency Services, Emergency Management Commissioner and Victoria police.
The other performer DJ KLP cancelled her set for this incident and stated that following DMA’s reputation it was expected that a large number of fans would be attending their show, therefore the organisers must be ready with more exit point instead of only two. To KLP, the organisers knew their responsibilities and expected to take their decisions seriously after such an incident. Paul Holman, State health commander had stated that it was fortunate that no case of death had been reported but the situation could have been worse.
The international experts of physics of crowd movement were been sought to investigate how the people had been caught up in crowd crush at the 2016 Falls Festival. A class action had been lodged by dozens of terrified crowd victims through Warrnambool law firm Maddens Lawyers. The supreme court of Melbourne heard the dispute over the reason of this disaster. Maddens senior partner said almost sixty people were at first on the statement of claim but as the news was published about the action, more victims had come forward (Mohamed et al., 2012). The report disclosed the statements of the terrified victims and how they spent several minutes of absolute thanatophobia. The partner argued that people had paid $249 to $468 along with booking fees for attending this festival, therefore, it is expected that they would be in a secured environment. The claim asserted Ash Sound Pvt Ltd that was trading as Falls Festival, restricted people’s exit from the tent therefore, caused crowd crush. The claim also stated that the schedule of the organisers were faulty which caused the people rush to leave but they did not cover a proper risk assessment for this particular performance by DMA’s. however, they were in regular contact with the victims and provided assistance.
Min Gou, the class action’s barrister explained the pathetic conditions of the victims most importantly of a Victorian student Michela Bourke, the lead plaintiff of this dispute. She is prohibited of any physical activity due to a fatal nerve injury in her numb hand. The partner found that Victorian Ambulance assessed 80 revellers and 20 were sent to hospital for serious injury.
The organisers revealed the physical layout of the event and claimed that some people were pushing others from behind eventually caused the front audience lose footing. The organisers claimed that the incident was a confluence of events and investigation would be done on their part too (Rusted, 2012). The festival’s co-producer Jessica Ducrou stated that every decisions and actions were taken by the experts and the event was cooperating with the WorkSafe investigation.
During the directions hearing before Melbourne supreme court justice Dixon, both the lawyers expressed their desire to go to trial for this case and exchanged about more than five hundred documents of evidence. The court had given them time for few months.
Jeffery Gleeson, the lawyer representing the event authority, sought experts from the international physics of crowd movement. These experts deal with the processes of mass movement across the globe (Wynn-Moylan, 2017). To the accused, the whole incident was confusing. It was surprising that the stage was large with a large marquee, the performance of DMA’s was over and people started to leave (Sun, Keim & Yuan, 2013). In this circumstances, no objectionable reason could be found to impede the flow of the crowd from getting out. All of a sudden the crowd got through and tumbled on top of one another. The experts were therefore needed to solve this complicated case. Mr. Guo’s request for having the led plaintiff trail before the jury had been reserved by the justice for this case’s complicated nature. The supreme court ordered both the parties to finalise the expert witnesses and provide their statements to the court within a month. The judge fixed another directions hearing to be held at the beginning of 2018.
The organisers of Falls Festival 2016 had been blamed by the victims as well as their families and friends along with the revellers throughout the world. They are accused of not only failing to manage the crowd but also for more serious actions (Bhattacharya, 2012). The organisers dissuaded the media and blocked themselves showing privacy reasons. They did not allow patient parties to access the patient names and records in the hospitals. Therefore, the media asked the injured punters to come forward and share their experiences in the Grand Theatre at Lorne Falls festival area. Beside these, the organisers were blamed for not taking proper steps so that the guardians of the patients could contact them or acquire some information (Illiyas et al., 2013). The phone reception problems at the festival location caused Parents’ inability to reach their children. The report revealed that some of the families attempted to contact the festival authority but left frustrated as they got a generic and pre-prepared responses from them. Music lovers all over the world along with the parents chose the Facebook page of the Falls Festival to express their resentment and anger over this issue (Jon Hawkins & Ryan, 2013). Some of these people accused the organisers for not responding and attending the tensed guardians of the victims. They claimed that the organisers should have contacted the guardians. No medical staffs or any representatives of the festival authority provided them any information rather they were not responding the repeated mail requests.
The festival organisers termed the accident of crowd crush as a confluence of events. The authority itself was totally devastated and beyond shattered by the incident. The co-producer Jessica Ducrou on behalf of the authority apologised to the effected and their families and expressed their deepest regression for such an experience. To the authority, the incident was distressing for all and they employed a team of experts to investigate the matter in detail.
The organisers also defended themselves by stating that the security and safety of the patrons were an issue of utmost importance to them and media had been spreading misinformation about the organisers’ response to this unfortunate accident. Despite the fact that the festival authority refused any interview before proper investigation, marked that there were almost fifteen security guards and as well as staff members for security management inside the marquee (Hutton, Brown & Verdonk, 2013). A sufficient number of medical staffs were also employed for managing any unnatural phenomenon.
In a response to the criticism in their Facebook page, the festival organisers stated that they provided a news update about the incident prior to any media news and thanked the medical team as well the staffs in a post. In spite of this response to the crowd crush, they faced bitter criticism by the injured and their guardians.
Many of the Patrons blamed the Falls and not the crowd and stated that if they did not help each other, the situation could have been worse. Some of them joined a great crowed effort and successfully pulled down a fence thus escaped the crush. They explain the situation close to life threat (Turris, Lund & Bowles, 2014). The spokeswoman responded this blame by stating that a lot of corrective actions had been agreed upon following the initial inquiries and implemented for managing the safe movement of the revellers at the festival site.
The festival organisers utilized the social media to clear up some of the misinformation that the newspaper and others spread regarding the mishap (Turris et al., 2014). The stated that the authority spent sufficient time engaging with the local authorities, specialist consultant, local as well as state government. They also consulted other community services for ensuring a safest ambience for the audience. They believed without the assistance from planning council and these institutions, the Falls festival in Lorne would not have been possible (Cummings & Herborn, 2015). Their joint venture had an impeccable safety records for last twenty-four years.
Some of the concert goers claimed that they had to walk almost a kilometre for receiving any medical attention for the victims after being trapped in the crowd crush. After the medical staffs arrived, their medical tent was hard to be managed (Yeoman, Robertson & McMahon-Beattie, 2012). In response to this criticism the fest organisers explained the medical structure that they had built few years ago to provide a possible comfortable medical attention. The medical staffs were also reliable and skilled to treat and act at the time of emergency (Ahi, 2013). This medical structure was located within 100 metres from the Grand Theatre therefore, the claim of walking a kilometre was denied by the responsible staffs. The organisers also showed evidences of having staffs of Ambulance VIC, Salvation Army and Event Medical Services Australia who assisted the victims immediately they reached the location (Steffen et al., 2012).
Therefore, it can be concluded that there has been a great controversy regarding the accident in Falls Festival 2016. The victims along with their families criticised the management and nullified all excuses given by the authority. As a response to the accusation for not ensuring the security of the revellers, the authority apologised cordially and stated that the organisers had been working with the site authority and emergency services for more than 20 years. The organisers also had communication procedures that were fully supported by Victorian emergency management commissioner. However, the victims had filed a class action lawsuit and appealed for justice.
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