Two vehicle sports accidents recently took place that reinforces the importance of safety and crowd management.
One accident happened at the Houston Grix Prix. Dario Franchitti’s IndyCar went airborne and crashed into a fence. Along with Franchitti, 13 fans and a race official were injured from debris flying into the grandstand.
Another accident happened during the Extreme Aeroshow in Chihuahua, Mexico. A monster truck driver lost control of his vehicle and drove through a crowd of spectators. Nine people died, and 75 were hurt.
“Chihuahua Gov. Cesar Duarte Juarez said his administration, which was listed as a sponsor of the air show, was investigating whether Civil Protection authorities had correctly enforced safety regulations,” Ashley Collman and Helen Collis reported for the Associated Press. “He and other officials didn’t say if those regulations required any protective barrier for spectators.”
Event organizers say that hundreds of spectators were gathered in the pit area without permission.
“Veteran monster truck show organizers said spectators should never have been standing that close to the arena floor unprotected, regardless of the trajectory of the truck,” Collman and Collis reported. “They said properly organized shows take place in an arena with a safety zone separating spectators from the trucks, which the Chihuahua city show lacked.”
These two incidents are examples of what can and will happen at motorsport events, says Harold Hansen, CFE, director of life safety and security for IAVM.
“As venue managers, we must exercise a standard of care that will keep patrons and spectators out of harm’s way,” he said. “Establishing a safety zone between the track and spectators is essential; effective shielding of patrons from flying debris is another.”
Hansen says safety and crowd management planning must ask a lot of ‘What if this happens?’ questions and then implement protections that address the threats and hazards identified.
“Never be lulled into believing ‘It won’t happen here’,” he says. “It can and might!”
A good way to stay prepared and to learn skills that may save lives is to attend the 2013 International Crowd Management Conference at the Plaza Marriott in San Antonio, Texas, November 10-13. Session topics include “Incident Management for Venue Operations in a Crisis,” “Enabling Your Staff to Handle Problematic Behavior,” and “Pyrotechnics: Patron Safety, Technical Expertise, and Considerations of Use.” The conference is a great opportunity for you to enhance your security and safety knowledge and to learn from experienced industry colleagues.
(Image via Flickr: CEPx09/Creative Commons)