What is Crowd Management? What is a stampede? What are the causes of stampedes or crowd disasters? What is the National Guidelines on Crowd Management? Read further to know more.
In India, at least one disaster occurs annually that could have been avoided with improved crowd management.
Hence, crowd disaster management is a critical issue.
The systematic planning and oversight of the orderly movement and assembly of people are referred to as crowd management. Crowd management entails evaluating a space’s capacity to handle people before it is used.
It includes assessing anticipated occupancy levels, the suitability of entry and exit points, processing steps like ticket collection, and anticipated activity patterns and group dynamics.
A quick rush of a multitude of people is referred to as a stampede, which typically leaves many people injured and dead through suffocation and trampling. A surge of people inside a crowd as a result of excitement, a sense of impending danger, or a lack of personal space is what leads to stampedes.
Statistics on Crowd disasters in India
Over 2,000 individuals perished in stampedes from 2000 to 2013, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau. According to a 2013 study by the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction (IJDRR), 79% of the stampedes in India have occurred at religious gatherings and pilgrimages.
Causes of stampede or crowd disaster
There are many causes of crowd disasters.
- Demolition of temporary constructions, stairways that rise vertically, small buildings because of errant structures, hawkers, and parking.
- Electric/Fire Mishaps: While celebrating in temporary kitchens, improper use of firecrackers or poor wiring are common causes.
- Failure of the electricity supply causes panic and prompts a hasty evacuation.
- Reducing the size of the crowd, failing to coordinate with management, overselling tickets, and causing a general panic due to a sudden rush or rumours of getting freebies or signatures from celebrities.
- To manage their motions, people require at least 1 square yard of space per person. In large crowds, asphyxiation rather than trampling is the most common cause of death.
- People can become brain-dead in as little as 6 minutes after being crushed for just 30 seconds.
- Insufficient deployment of safety teams results in drastic actions, such as using tear gas.
- Insufficient cooperation between administrative agencies, including the management of the shrine, the fire department, and the police.
National Guidelines on Crowd Management-NDMA
The main suggestions are as follows:
Knowing the location, the public, and the stakeholders
- Understanding the site, the guests, and the many stakeholders is a fundamental component of event planning and crowd control.
- It involves knowledge about the event’s type (such as religious, educational, sporting, musical, or political), expected audience (age, gender, and socioeconomic status), and audience motivations (such as social, academic, religious, entertainment, or economic).
- Location (topography of the area, duration, openness or closure, and involvement of other stakeholders) (such as NGOs, neighbours of the event venue, local administrators etc.)
- Traffic should be appropriately controlled around the locations of such gatherings.
- Together with route maps for emergency exits, venues should have a map of their layout.
- Barricades should be able to regulate how long lines of people move.
- If there are long lines of people, the snake line strategy should be used.
- General admittance at packed events should be discouraged, and venue managers should have a plan for handling VIP guests or, alternatively, restrict entry to VIPs when it raises safety issues.
Security and Safety
- The setting In accordance with safety regulations, organisers must verify authorised electrical consumption, the presence of fire extinguishers, and other precautions.
- It advises using CCTV cameras to keep an eye on the people and a micro UAV in case the crowd size gets out of hand.
- Public address systems with loudspeakers positioned in all congested areas are used for communication.
Medical and emergency care
To manage post-disaster crises, medical first-aid rooms and emergency operations centres should be established.
Event managers’ responsibilities
In collaboration with others, such as the local government and police, the event organisers and venue managers should establish, implement, review, and amend the disaster management plan.
Role of civil society
NGOs and civil defence can be involved in traffic management, crowd control, medical support, cleanliness, and the mobilisation of local resources in case of disaster, according to event/venue managers.
Role of police
Police should actively take part in site evaluation and readiness inspections and direct traffic and crowd movements.
To avert crowd tragedies, creating capacity is crucial, as are conducting drills and regularly evaluating the training of security and police personnel.
Concerns in crowd management
- The inadequate crowd control by concerned authorities is a significant problem brought to light by recurrent stampedes. The NDMA crowd management rules have not yet been put into effect by state or municipal administrations.
- Urban neighbourhoods and locations where large crowds frequently congregate, including temples, are likely to be more vulnerable as a result of population growth and fast urbanisation.
- Teressa Moore, a scholar, asserts that because Indians have a higher tolerance for crowded conditions, large-scale events there are more likely to result in stampedes. India’s increased tolerance for crowds makes it possible for more individuals to assemble close together because they don’t start to feel uneasy until the area is extremely crowded.
- Stampedes may be avoided, and they draw attention to the problem of inadequate management and governance. The organisations in charge of giving permits or licences for large gatherings and events do not follow regulations. After a calamity that can be avoided by man, like a stampede, there are also questions about responsibility.
- All States must act immediately to create crowd disaster management plans while keeping in mind the NDMA’s standards due to the frequent occurrence of stampedes.
- At Sabarimala in Kerala, a pilot project on crowd control has been established, and it was designed with the unique peculiarities of the pilgrimage in mind.
- Before hosting large meetings, a location’s or structure’s capacity should be properly assessed. To prevent accidents like the Mumbai Elphinstone Bridge disaster, current infrastructure issues need to be solved.
- To prevent crowd tragedies, crowd density needs to be monitored and managed.
- To prevent crowding and ensure ample room for unfettered mobility, an adequate number of police and security officials must constantly monitor and control the density of the gathering using CCTV cameras, ticketing systems, and on-ground surveillance.
- On-site medical, communication and security resources must be sufficient.
- Recent studies have shown that crowd behaviour might differ from individual behaviour in a scenario and be less reasonable. There should be a public speaker system so that authorities can control rumours from spreading, quiet agitated crowds, and assist individuals in leaving orderly.
Crowd control should be the primary priority in today’s world, particularly in India. Human mistake is a major factor in many tragic incidents involving huge crowds. These tragedies can be prevented by making plans and taking aggressive action.
In addition, it’s critical to evaluate past mistakes and learn from them. Everyone in society is concerned about crowd disasters. Notwithstanding the government’s duty to set the example, the general public must play a significant part in averting similar catastrophes in the future.
Article Written By :Atheena Fathima Riyas