Whether it’s a stampede exiting a large public transit station or a crush event at a crowded public event, Paul Wertheimer of Crowd Management Strategies, a crowd management expert that has presented for the National Fire Protection Association and the Rhode Island General Assembly, said the key to reducing injuries and deaths is understanding crowd dynamics in a panic.
With stampede-like events leading to death and injury, it’s often crowd craze that results from critical emergency planning errors.
There’s always this perception that if people had just acted rationally they wouldn’t have been crushed to death. Panic didn’t cause this, the failure to manage this event caused this,” he told the publication World Nomads.
He offered the following tips for surviving a crowd craze or stampede.
Survival Tips for Crowd Craze
“When you start to feel uncomfortable in a crowd, this is the time to start looking at leaving,” said Wertheimer.
- Make a mental note of all the exits in a crowded venue — the way you came in may not be the best way out
- Leave the venue as soon as you start to feel uncomfortable
- Stay on your feet
- Conserve energy – don’t push or yell
- Use body language to communicate
- Keep your hands up by your chest, like a boxer
- If in danger, ask people to crowd surf you away
- If someone extends their hand for help, grab hold to keep them up.
Escaping a Stampede — The Accordion Method
At a certain point, the reality is that crowds can trap people in a panic. But before that point, there may be a way to get away, and it happens when movement in the crowd slows, Wertheimer said.
“After you’re pushed forward, like in a wave there’s a lull. In that lull is your chance to move,” he said.
The Accordion Method is moving on a diagonal, between pockets of people. Between each surge of crowd movement, keep taking diagonal steps toward the periphery and keep trying to work your way out.