Who Is Really in Charge of Event Safety?

What lessons can Lollapalooza provide from the tragic loss of life at a concert at the Indiana State Fair in 2011. During that event, high winds caused a stage to collapse, killing seven concert goers. The call to evacuate came a little too late, and what is worse, police were calling for an evacuation earlier, but were overruled by a promoter.

The 2012 Lollapalooza Severe Weather Plan claims that emergency decisions will be a joint process between the concert promoter C3 Presents and City of Chicago Public Safety Officials, but is this the best decision? And what if there is a disagreement between those parties on how to handle an emergency situation?

A recent www.timesnews.net article, “Lesson Learned Last Summer Didn’t Make it Into Lollapalooza Safety Plan,” addresses this issue, and a prominent question from the article: Shouldn’t the City have the full responsibility for safety in a case like this, as a promoter is not an expert in safety management?

The most crucial part of any emergency plan is designating who makes that final call. It becomes evidentially clear that officials at Lollapalooza in Chicago do not have this entirely worked out, which could lead to issues if an evacuation is needed. Officials with C3 Presents state that of course city safety officials have the final say, but the plan makes the mistake of not stating this loudly and clearly. In essence, every time it is said that “promoters with C3 Presents in conjunction with city officials make the final decision,” it should also be followed up with the statement that, “In the event of a disagreement, authority rests with the city to make the final decision.” The fact that it does not make this clarification is troubling and could potentially lead to the unnecessary loss of life.

It is imperative that emergency plans be implemented by those who do not have a monetary incentive to keep a show going. It is understandable that schedules be kept, but concert promoters should have an advisory role at best. Crucial decisions that could involve something as precious as life should not be left up to those who have a vested monetary interest in an event. That is what happened in Indiana and, unless this point is clarified, it could happen again. This lesson learned can clearly be applied to all areas of emergency planning and response.

For more information about the new safety plan and its impact, visit: http://www.timesnews.net/article/9049896/lesson-learned-last-summer-didnt-make-it-into-lollapalooza-safety-plan