How to survive a crowd crush: Anaheim FD deputy chief shares expert tips to know during crowd surge

How do you survive a crowd crush? See expert tips on what to do during dangerous and deadly crowd surge incidents.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2022
How to survive a crowd crush: Expert tips you should know
How do you survive a crowd surge? See expert tips on what to do during dangerous and deadly crowd crush incidents, like the tragedy in South Korea.

We've seen it happen at soccer games, concerts and other large scale events like the Halloween festival in Seoul, South Korea.

Crowd surges can sweep up revelers, causing major injuries and even deaths -- more than 150 people were killed in Seoul alone.

So what can you do? How do you survive something unexpected like this?

Anaheim Fire Department Deputy Chief Kevin Stewart joined Eyewitness News to share some important survival advice, including answers to these questions:

1. How do people die in situations like this?

The deputy chief said what tends to happen in these large crowds is that something triggers a wave, like someone falling or a fight. This wave then creates a large movement of people to the point where they are crushed against each other or a building, and the deaths usually occur by compressive asphyxia.

2. What can you do before you go into a crowd? Is there a way to prevent getting caught up in a surge while also enjoying the event you're at?

The best thing you can do is to understand the event, he emphasized. Ask yourself - is this event well run by a reputable organization? Is there adequate security? Plus, as you enter the event, look around to identify where the exits are, so you can get out if necessary.

3. If you find yourself in a crowd surge, what should you do?

If you are in a large crowd and you notice that you are feeling really cramped to the point where it becomes hard to move and hard to breathe, you're in a dangerous situation. Here are important survival tips to keep in mind:

  • Put your arms up in front of you, similar to a boxer's pose. This will create space in front of you to give you room to breathe.
  • Stay on your feet. If you drop something, it is critical that you do not attempt to pick it up.
  • Move diagonally through the crowd until you are able to reach a safer, less-crowded spot. Make sure to move in the same direction as the wave, not against it.
  • 4. Do first responders train for crowd surges?

    Stewart says it's difficult for first responders to train to mitigate these incidents, because it's hard to predict when such surges will happen. However, first responders do train on how to help in the aftermath of such incidents.

    Watch the video in the media player above for Deputy Chief Stewart's full interview.

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