With New Year’s Eve around the corner and everyone itching for a good night out, it’s going to get pretty crowded out there. Even if you think a crowd crush will never apply to you, taking a moment to learn what to do in this situation could save your life and the lives of those around you. It would help prevent something similar to an Itaewon tragedy.
When you enter a venue, take note of exits
If you are attending a concert or large event, make sure you make note of where the emergency exits are when entering. Once it gets too crowded, the main exit may not be the most viable option.
Learn how to watch crowd density
This may be the most important step in the thread. Once crowd density reaches 6 people per square meter or more, it becomes very dangerous and you may not be able to get out anymore. Prevention is key.
Understand where crowd crush happens
Most crowd crush deaths occur in small spaces such as alleyways, moshpits, or exit hallways of venues. This is why it’s best to leave early and not wait for things to get dangerous since others may get the same idea and crush at the exit.
Since crowd crushes occur in loud environments, people outside the crush often have no idea what’s happening. If you are at an organized event and notice a crowd crush, get up high. Alert security and event organizers to stop the music and make everyone aware.
Make space around your chest
If you are stuck in the crowd and feel its density increasing, make space around your chest with your arms. Pining your arms to your sides or above your head leaves your chest open to being compressed.
Do not take off backpack
Your first instinct may be to make more space by removing a bulky backpack and putting it on the floor. This is a huge hazard. People being pushed into it may trip and case a pileup.
Go with the flow
Once the crowd reaches 8-9 people per square meter, those inside can’t move freely and the crowd behaves like a liquid. You will feel yourself being moved in different directions, but it’s important you don’t fight it. This clip demonstrates one of these waves.
Do not scream and push
If you begin acting panicked, hostile, and inconsiderate of those around you, it will become contageous. In this situation, pushing one person can lead to a horrible chain reaction. Again, staying calm and moving with the crowd is the safest choice.
Try not to fall
This is pretty intuitive, but it’s importance must be emphasized. Your top priority once the crowd crush starts is staying upright. Once you fall down, people will fall ontop of you or climb you. You won’t be able to get back up.
Most people who asphyxiate in crowd crushes are pushed against solid objects like floors, barriers, fences, or walls. Do your best to avoid becoming trapped against walls or even the back of someone trapped against a wall to increase your chances of survival.
Help your neighbours only if you can
Access the risk first. If someone is slipping down and you are in the position to help them you should, but if you are unstable and someone is yanking on you trying to get up, it could result in both of you falling.
When the crowd thins there may be people on the floor. Since these things usually result from lack of event planning, there may not be enough medical personnel to help right away. In this case, volunteers save lives. The next parts are about how and when to provide CPR.
Make sure it’s safe
Assess the situation around you. Crowd surges have natural lulls and you must be certain you will be safe and that you will have the space to help someone before you decide to go check on them.
Assessing if someone is responsive
Just because someone is down does not mean they need CPR. The first step is to see if they are conscious. Asking “Are you alright?” and shaking their shoulders is a good place to start. If they don’t move or make a noise, move to the next step.
Check for breathing
Tilt their chin up to open their airways. Then, level your eyes to their chest and see if it is rising and falling. Listen for breathing (if it isn’t too loud). You can also put a hand on their chest or a finger under their nose to feel for warm breath.
If they are unresponsive and do not breathe for ten seconds, they need CPR. It is best to learn CPR with dummies and an instructor, but if this is not accessible to you, here are the basics.
Hand position: For an adult, your hands should be laced together (not side by side) pressing on the sternum.
Pressure: Get past any hesitance to pump hard. You should be pressing 5cm (2in) into their chest. CPR requires force– more than you would usually be comfortable applying to a person. But this is absolutely necessary to reach their heart.
Crack: In 30% if cases, breaks and fractures occur from life-saving compressions. This cracking sound can scare people since it’s not depicted in movies, but know that it is normal. Don’t let it startle you out of resuscitating someone.
Beat: Compress to the tune of either “Stayin’ Alive” by Bee Gees or “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen, whichever is most memorable. Both use the correct rhythm for compressions. If you don’t like those songs, look up which of your favorite songs have a BPM of 100-120.
Breath: If you add rescue breaths it helps, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, don’t let that stop you from doing CPR. Compressions and no breaths is much better than nothing at all. If you add rescue breaths, count your compressions. After 30 (if you lose count just estimate), tilt their chin upwards to open the airway, pinch their nose, and fit your mouth over theirs. Breathe out twice. You will see their chest rising if you’re doing it correctly.
Continue: It requires a lot of energy, and you will probably get tired. If feel yourself going slower than the song, shout for someone to help you out and step in. If they don’t know what they are doing, do your best to guide. Swap when you notice them slowing. Keep going until first responders arrive. If the person is going to be resuscitated, they need the oxygen going to their brain to keep it from dying.
Hopefully with more awareness, we can prevent crowd crush tragedies in the future. Or if you’d rather avoid the crowds, there are plenty of themed parties you can throw with your bunch of friends.