The fair and festival circuit has started for select regions of the United States. It happens about this time every year in the southeast and west (Late January early February). Fairs, festivals and carnivals can range from small church festivals to large state fairs. Regardless of the size, there are some things to consider concerning the development and management of safety policies and procedures. Without effective programming and attention detail, accidents and incidents can and will occur to unsuspecting patrons. Below is an example of an actual scenario that occurred as a result of poor event planning.
A rodeo and fair was held at an event complex in a southeastern suburb of a major city. The fair authority for the location had contracted for 34 amusement rides and device with a regional carnival operator. The fair was being held in conjunction with a widely publicized rodeo event. This was the second year that the rodeo and fair had been held in conjunction.
Approximately a half mile away and young girl was riding on a spinning flat ride (an amusement ride). While the ride was cycling the young girl collapsed; the ride cycle was about a third complete. Her friend that was riding with her started to scream at the operator. The operator did not initially hear her. It took 2 additional rotations to gain the operators attention. The ride cycle was coming to a stop. The operator proceeded to release passengers systematically waiting to the end to address the needs of the distressed passenger. The operator whistled at an operator at another ride to assist and failed to yield a result because the attendant could not hear over the music. The flat ride operator eventually left his ride searching for a manger or police officer patrolling the midway to assist. The operator located and explained to a police officer the situation. A 911 call was placed approximately 5-6 minutes after the initial incident.
EMS was on property at the front entrance to the rodeo. EMS received the call and was responding. At the time of the call the rodeo had ended. Approximately 8,000 people were exiting the front entrance of the rodeo. The main thoroughfare to the fair location was now obstructed. The EMS personnel stayed in the ambulance trying to navigate through the crowd. Several sheriff officers were within walking distance of the situation as well. The ride time from the front entrance of the rodeo to the spinning flat ride was approximately 8 minutes. The elapsed time since the call was initiated was now close to 13-14 minutes. The young lady was dead on scene. It was noted that an AED under 4 minutes would have saved this child’s life. The ambulance was approximately 2,640 feet away.
As event planners and producers how could we have prevented this from happening? Below are some things to consider when planning for an event such as this. If you do not have the answers to this questions please seek out someone that can help develop solid plans in order to manage situations such as this.
• What should the ride attendant have done?
• What did the carnival operator fail to do?
• Was there adequate communication?
• Where should have EMS been? Did they have enough on hand?
• What should the police have done?
• What should have the facility done?
• What is an appropriate response time?
• Should there have been an established route for EMS and police?
• What kind of crowd management/control practice should have been in place? Who should have developed the procedures and who should have implemented them?
• Do you have to notify anyone concerning the death? Who? How long do you have?
• Should you do anything for the family?