CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Following the Astroworld concert tragedy, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the formation of the Texas Task Force on Concert Safety.
American Bank Center general manager Paul Turner is familiar with those findings. His facility can seat up to 10,000 people.
“A typical concert you're looking at 8,500 depending on how the concert floor is arranged with the stage and with seating and if there’s a standing area,” Turner said.
If any venue with a large capacity is expected to host a large number of people, the responsibility falls primarily to the city, tasking multiple departments with making sure it is safe.
“As we’re planning the event all the way through before we start selling tickets all the way up to when we open the doors we all know what to expect and we all have the safety procedures in place,” Turner said.
The recent tragedy at Astroworld, which has killed 10 people, has brought up some questions about crowd safety.
The National Fire Protection Associations Life Safety Code employed in Texas says in situations with crowds of more than 250 people, there should be a ratio of one crowd manager for every 250 occupants.
“Then as they get more experience and we work on them one on one, we’ll move them to closer positions like inside the arena bowl,” Turner said.
Those who complete the International Fire Chiefs Association crowd manager training will learn how to:
- Conduct pre-event inspections to identify problems with exits and progress paths and ensure required fire systems are operational
- Use a portable fire extinguisher
- Guide the crowd in an emergency
- Recognize when to use protection strategies, including defend-in-place, evacuation or partial evacuation
- React to deteriorating weather conditions
- Identify problem attendees and how to respond once they're identified
- Coordinate with emergency responders
“Our job from the fire department's perspective is to provide safety and medical support,” said Corpus Christi Fire Chief Randy Page, who says the department will run through drills ahead of any event in order to prepare.
“We normally will stage equipment on site because it's such a large gathering with so many people it’s hard to get emergency crews into,” he said.
To secure a venue, Page says the local police department and private security will helps keep it as safe as possible for everyone.
“We are gonna be here and assist as many people as we can," said Page.
While there is no law on crowd safety, Turner says Corpus Christi has the resources to plan a large-scale event.
“People come in and they go home safely and that’s our number one priority," he said.