UK police chief stresses situational awareness for people attending events

The tragic crush of people at a South Korean Halloween festival has experts talking about ways...
The tragic crush of people at a South Korean Halloween festival has experts talking about ways to handle a crowd crush.(CNN)
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 11:54 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The tragedy at a South Korean Halloween festival has experts talking about ways to handle a crowd crush.

UK student Anne Gieske was one of the more than 150 people who died during that celebration.

Officials we spoke with told us that, typically, these large crowd crushes are pretty rare events, but, when you’re caught in the middle of a massive crowd of people, there are some things you can do to try and avoid a dangerous situation.

“Looking at what your surroundings are, is probably the most important thing you can do as an attendee,” said UK Police Chief Joe Monroe.

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In addition to serving as the police chief for the UK Police Department, Monroe also teaches crowd control for FEMA. He’s been doing that for the last 20 years and something he teaches is the importance of situational awareness.

“Too many times we lose focus of that, we get caught up in the excitement of the event and we lose our situational awareness, and I think that’s important to remember as an attendee you always have to have your situational awareness I don’t care what kind of event it is,” said Monroe.

Monroe says if you find yourself in the middle of a crowd crush or you feel that crowd pushing forward, try to move diagonally to the sides of the crowd to get out.

He says to keep a firm base and if you drop something don’t try to pick it up. You’re more likely to get pushed down and you won’t be able to get back to your feet.

Monroe says you should also be aware of the different types of events you’re going to. Ticketed events, events with more structure, are typically safer than general admission or free-for-all kinds of events.

“I mean, if you look at Woodstock ‘99 or you look at some of these other large events, even the recent soccer match in India, the crowd press potential is the highest risk that we face and that’s because we put too many people in a small area,” said Monroe.

Monroe says event planners should build emergency exit routes or easily removable barriers so it’s easier for crowds to escape and move if they need to.