How Astroworld Disaster Can Be Avoided in the Future

How can a tragedy like the deadly surge at Astroworld be avoided in the future?

Disaster struck at the Houston festival fronted by Travis Scott last Friday when eight people in 50,000 strong crowd died in a crush at the NRG Park in the city, with scores more injured.

Harrowing footage from the event has seen the blame game begin, with authorities saying the rapper should have stopped the show earlier with crowd safety experts citing a "whole bunch of failures" being the reason for the crush.

"The tragic events in Houston once again highlight the importance of having appropriately trained, qualified and experienced crowd safety managers who have the competence and capability to plan for and manage large crowded events," Jim Goddard, Director at Event Safety Solutions Ltd, told Newsweek.

"The planning process for large crowded events should include an evaluation of the event, the venue, the artists, the demographic of the audience and their likely responses, interactions and behaviors."

Goddard explained that the crowd safety managers at Astroworld or any large-scale event should have effective safety and security plans that consider the "ingress, circulation and egress of the audience within the venue."

He explained that such personnel at these kinds of events must be appropriately trained, equipped and briefed safety, security and medical teams who have an understanding of the event, the audience and the likely situations they may face during the event.

Travis Scott
Fans during 2021 Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on November 05, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Getty/WireImage/Erika Goldring

"The event plans should include a range of options and contingencies for dealing with crowd safety incidents," he said.

"In the event where an incident occurs and public safety is at risk, the crowd safety manager must have the capability and capacity to stop the show until such time as the event or emergency has been addressed."

A criminal investigation is now ongoing as authorities have discovered that protocols for a crowd surge were not listed in the festival's event operations plans.

At least 14 lawsuits have been filed against Scott and the event organizers Live Nation and ScoreMore.

Goodard added: "Without being in possession of the full facts in this case it is not reasonable or appropriate to apportion blame and assume the causes. I am sure the investigation by the authorities will establish the facts and provide answers to the many questions being raised.

"If there are lessons to be learned from this tragedy then it is essential these are implemented for the safety of all attending future events."

Similarly, Professor Keith Still, a leading expert in crowd science from the University of Suffolk, told Newsweek that a high-energy show should have been planned for to avoid such failures.

"If you're planning for any event that has high-energy performer, such as Travis Scott, then I wouldn't have used the design that they had," he explained. "You need to be able to plan and manage your crowd according and your space according to the type of performance."

"You're gonna put somebody like Travis Scott in that environment, then you need to make sure that the environment is safe for the kind of crowds that are gonna be there."

AstroWorld
Fans attend the Astroworld Fest 2021 at NRG Park on November 5, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Omar Vega/Getty/FilmMagic