COMMENT: Astroworld crowd surge is a universal lesson in safety

The fatal crowd crushing on November 5 at Travis Scott’s Astroworld, an annual large-scale hip-hop festival, should be treated as a wake-up call to be aware of the seriousness of crowd safety. 

The crush killed 10 people who died from their injuries, including a nine-year-old boy. More than 125 people, including families of those who died and survivors of the crush, have filed cases to sue Scott and event organisers for $750m.

Harrowing videos have been shared around social media of victims being attended to by paramedics as well as a video of a desperate fan shouting, “stop the show” and begging security staff for assistance.

A lesson in crowd control

With the knowledge that this huge-scale event is intense in its nature, with many mosh pits taking place, and substances being consumed, event promoters like the ones at Astroworld have a duty to make sure that every measure is in place to ensure the safety of the audience and staff.

However, ticket sales drive all music events. A full audience is necessary for the commercial profit and sometimes this comes at a cost for paying crowd members like those at Astroworld.

It is heartbreaking that at what should have been a celebration of music and coming together ended up being hell.

What is baffling is that crowd surges can still happen in our day and age.

It is now time to learn from these mistakes and fatal incidents and take them a lot more seriously in order to prevent further deaths, injuries, and nightmares for audiences.

The issue with crowd surging incidents is that it is usually too late when something happens. In a busy crowd where people are excited to see the stage, if someone cannot see they will tend to push further forward to get a better view, pushing people closer together. If someone were to fall over, it is very hard for them to get back up without assistance from others.

With music events, people are screaming and shouting and so any genuine cries for help are drowned out. On top of this, some people may be amped up by the music (and potentially alcohol or drugs) and some may wish to take part in a mosh pit (the area at the front of stage in which participants push or slam into each other).

It is essential that everyone who wishes to attend any sort of large event understands a crowd. The members of a crowd are the people who cause the crush; therefore, it would be worth providing lessons on being a responsible audience member or how to’s on being safe in a busy crowded space.

For example, before booking tickets online or before the event starts, it could be mandatory for every guest to watch a video on crowd safety and what to do in an incident of crushing.

As demonstrated at Astroworld, uncontrolled crowds with people who are unaware of the risks can lead to deadly consequences. Artists, production crews and event organisers must take this as a warning to improve on crowd control.

However, it is the audience members who must learn from this the most and reflect on how fatal crowds can become. We all must use this as a lesson and be more aware and respectful of fellow crowd members next time.

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