Poor planning leads to a stampede at U.K.’s WE Are FSTVL
On Sunday, May 25th, attendees waiting in line at We Are FSTVL in Upminster, U.K. broke through security railings in a frenzied maelstrom. Many, in desperate frustration, attempted to escape from the long lines, intense heat, and lack of water.
The reason for the subsequent charge seems to have started from festival coordinators neglecting to give enough wristbands to participants. This was the catalyst that eventually lead to the rumble and panic in the crowd.
Additionally, the hot temperatures on Saturday were enough to incite heat stroke. As a result of that, certain participants were heaving or feeling like fainting while in line.
The episode happened on Saturday. Despite changes made for the last day to address the issues, a portion of the audience could not return, due to harm or debilitation from the day before.
For most, the wait time exceeded three hours. This was the direct result of incompetence on behalf of festival organizers to provide enough general admission wristbands. Therefore, vendors with food and drinks inside and attendants outside made the charge inevitable. Many passed out or watched others faint or vomit from heat-exhaustion, which made the situation more intense.
Cause of the calamity
Mob mentality is a powerful phenomenon, and all it may have taken was just a few to panic and push their way in, while others then followed suit. If one is to attend a festival in the future be mindful of moving through a crowd.
Witnesses to the event account that groups of people in the back of the line pushed and shoved others towards the front entrance, kicking down barriers, ignoring security and staff attempts to quell the disturbance. Due to injuries sustained during the incident, many had to be treated immediately.
We Are FSTVL made an announcement, in an attempt to save face and the reputation of the festival. They urged those influenced to contact coordinators.
“Due to unforeseen technical difficulties at the wristband exchange, customers had experienced longer waiting times and for that we apologize. Security were able to overcome these issues, and barriers were quickly reinstated.”
Renardo Henry, 21, travelled from Birmingham for the festival, was standing near people who passed out in the heat. He said:
We were in the queue, four people had collapsed around us, people were throwing up and shouting for medics, all the staff were doing was throwing water bottles into the crowd of people. I turned around to see my friends getting crushed by other people. People were coming out of there crawling and crying because they’d been trampled on. It was ridiculous and all the security was doing was trying to push people back.
The Met Police said officers were at the festival and working alongside organizers and the London Ambulance Service. According to the organizers, five customers had minor injuries. Before they returned to the festival, medical staff helped them. This is also why medical staff are very important at festivals.
Witnesses to the event generally describe the incident as a chaotic fiasco that was extremely dangerous. Many in the long run groups assembled to the point where hold up times surpassed three and a half hours. Furthermore, with no sustenance, water, or safeguard from the sun, the group started pushing.
Lack of planning for entry systems
The entry system at the music event We Are FSTVL on Saturday was branded a “shamble” and “dangerous”. According to reports, many people collapsed before getting into the festival grounds. Footage on social media picked up screams coming from the queues as a rush of people in the stampede through gates.
Some ticket-holders left without even being able to get in to the grounds. Reportedly, people were waiting for three hours in hot temperatures on Saturday. Eyewitnesses say a lack of wristbands led to crowds eventually charging past staff and into the event in east London. There have been multiple issues with festivals: for example, at this year’s Coachella, a fire broke loose. Additionally, You can check that out here.
Organizers of the two-day festival in east London—with an artist lineup that included Chase and Status, Bugzy Malone and CamelPhat—have apologized.
The situation reached a quick, although late, resolution. Consequently, remedial measures were in effect to change the process on site. Following this, they added additional queuing lanes and dedicated water distributors, for the benefit of all festival-goers.
“Our sincere apologies for anyone that was affected by the issue at the gate. Our event planning is done in accordance to the highest standards, working with The Met Police, London Ambulance Service and London Borough of Havering and the London Fire Brigade. We take the security of our audience very seriously and constantly review our processes to ensure a safe festival environment.”
The third day of the festival finally continued without incident.