When attending sporting events, concerts, and festivals, we often take safety for granted. We assume that no accidents or emergencies will arise and that everything will go smoothly. That’s usually the case because people behind the scenes — including event organizers and safety consultants — meticulously prepare and plan the event ahead of time.
Unfortunately, accidents do happen from time to time due to a variety of factors. A lack of resources, a lack of adequate safety planning, and errors in plan implementation may lead to event tragedies. Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival is an example of how things can quickly go wrong if proper safety measures are not taken seriously. During this event, poor safety planning and an inability for medical personnel to reach injured attendees led to 10 people dying – as a result of being trampled by the crowd.
What Went Wrong at the Astroworld Festival
On November 5, 2021, 10 people died at Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert in Houston, Texas. More than 20 were hospitalized, hundreds were injured, and many more were mentally scarred after hearing people scream as they got trampled and suffocated by their fellow concertgoers.
There are a few key reasons pointing to why this tragedy unfolded.
First, NRG Park — the concert’s venue — and Live Nation — the event’s organizer — did not put enough effort into safety planning. Reports have shown that there was a lack of sufficient medical supplies on hand and that the medical staff did not have enough experience or training to deal with the number of injured people. The first responders also could not reach the injured people in a timely manner due to crowd congestion.
Second, this concert was too large. Roughly 50,000 tickets were sold, making the sheer number of attendees a safety issue in and of itself.
Although Houston has no capacity limits for outdoor events, Live Nation and NRG Park should have given more conscious thought to the risks of overcrowding, given the proposed event layout. The event organizers should have analyzed the risks of overcrowding, such as crowd panic, crowd surge, and crowd crush. This could have prevented the behavior that lead to crowd crushing at Astroworld. Within the first few seconds of Scott’s first song, people were already beginning to drown under a wall of attendees. Soon, they were suffocating, and being trampled on as the sea of concert attendees moved over them.
This concert was almost bound to be dangerous because of its standing-room-only event layout. According to Paul Wertheimer, a nationally recognized crowd safety expert and founder of Crowd Management Strategies, “From Elvis Presley on, everyone has known [that a standing-room-only event layout] is problematic.” Unlike arena concert halls with permanent aisles and reserved seating, standing-room-only setups force people in the crowd to “work against each other,” which, according to Wertheimer, “is the worst thing that can happen in crowd safety.”
How Safety Consultant Services Keep Events Safe
NRG Park and Live Nation could have better mitigated the risk of any event tragedy by having hired safety consultants to perform a comprehensive risk assessment, and develop an emergency and crowd management plan. With the proper protocols and planning in place, event organizers would have been notified by safety consultants of the potential danger associated with the Astroworld event.
Safety consultants are able to offer a wide range of services and scoping expertise, including the following:
Choose an Adequate Location for the Event
To begin, safety consultants specializing in events are well experienced in how to determine the right location for an occasion such as a concert. They are able to help research location venues, layouts, and availability that can adequately and safely handle the event in waiting. Having their expertise guide the venue search helps reduce the risk of potential hazard issues, and leaves less liability concerns for event organizers.
Determine a Safe Capacity
Safety consultants can also help establish limits for crowd attendance. They will look at factors such as available staff personnel, emergency responders, event space, and more to determine a safe capacity. With the aid of a safety consultant, event organizers will have a hard number to base ticket sales off of – and as an independent contractor, a safety consultant has no incentive to increase attendance numbers for the sacrifice of revenue gains.
Prepare Emergency Response Plans
Safety consultants can help you prepare, audit, and practice Occupational Safety and Health Administration-compliant emergency response plans prior to the event. They can help oversee emergency responses for a variety of situations, including thunderstorms, earthquakes, and shootings.
Connect With Emergency Responders
Hiring a safety consultant can help event staff connect with local emergency authorities and responders to inform them of the anticipated event. The safety consultant will be able to determine a safe ratio of emergency responders to event attendees, and ensure that first responder staffing is met properly.
Obtain Necessary Permits
Safety consultants can help obtain the necessary safety permits in order to lawfully hold the event. As industry experts in event safety, they will be able to help organizers navigate all front and backend processes to ensure the event in question is abiding by all federal, state, and local regulations.
Determine Whether a Situation Is Safe
Finally, a safety consultant will help ultimately determine whether a situation is safe. Before the day of the event arrives, they will already have a good idea of how the event will unfold and what can be expected. They will have a good idea of all the variables that will impact the event, so they can give the green light on if the event should proceed or not.
Hire the Right Safety Consultant Services
Hiring the right safety consultant or safety consulting company can be difficult, particularly if you’ve never hired one before.
YellowBird makes it easy to connect with qualified EHS professionals. Our platform will match you with a fully vetted expert who knows the event industry, and whose qualifications suit your needs. You work directly with the expert while we manage the communication and billing logistics. Sign up today and connect with your best-fit safety consultant in a matter of hours.