Huntsville reminds public of large crowd safety protocols, following Astroworld tragedy

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Tragedy in Houston, Texas resulted in eight people killed and many more sent to the hospital following a Travis Scott concert at the Astroworld Music Festival.

Astroworld is a two-day music festival that was scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday in Houston. The event was sold out, according to the Astroworld website.

While most concerts and events in the Tennessee Valley don’t have near 50,000 attendees like at Astroworld, some events can get pretty crowded. This is why the City of Huntsville has strict safety protocols set in place.

“A lot of people don’t pay attention to things such as occupant load,” said Trent Bennett, the Assistant Fire Marshal for Huntsville. “This is why in the City of Huntsville we enforce it so hard, is because we don’t want to have incidents like this.”

Incidents where thousands of people are crammed together causing injuries and deaths. The Houston Fire Chief said the crowd began to compress toward the stage, causing panic and resulting in the injuries.

“The number of people that were literally shoulder to shoulder and pretty much everybody is breathing up the same air so you’re losing a lot of air as well in a congested spot and people are crushing,” said Bennett.

A situation like the one that resulted in Houston was avoidable, Bennett said. He said crowd management and crowd control are necessary at any large event.

“So by code, one crowd manager per 250 people is what’s acceptable,” he added.

Another problem that lead to injuries is the number of people in one space.

“When people don’t follow the occupant load, you typically have a lot of issues such as this,” said Bennett. “People not being able to get out, people stuck in doorways, people being trampled.”

The Huntsville Fire Marshal’s Office has worked with extremely large crowds in the past. Bennett remember when Donald Trump visited Madison County in 2016, where between 20,000-30,000 people attended the rally.

“That was a big crowd,” said Bennett. “We actually worked that event. One thing we has to do is make sure our doors were adequate, we can get out of our exit doors, making sure that our paths were clear.”

He says they made a plan beforehand and stuck to it. The big thing, Bennett says, is paying close attention to surroundings. He says if you go into a crowded place, consider if the area is safe or not. It may be better to leave in order to keep yourself safe.

If you notice overcrowding at a bar, restaurant, or venue, Bennett says to feel free to contact the Huntsville Fire Marshal’s office.

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