Question of the Week

February 17, 2003


Some things are unexpected.

"Witnesses of the 1993 Michigan-Wisconsin football game remember the tragedy that resulted as fans tried to rush the field at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, causing 73 people to be seriously injured....Following Wisconsin's victory over Michigan on Oct. 30, 1993, Badger fans in the student section became stuck between the crowd rushing forward and a fence blocking them from the field. Six people were critically injured."

"Detective Inspector Greg Bamford said that within 10 minutes of Limp Bizkit coming on stage, the 60,000-strong crowd had surged forward and a number of people collapsed to the ground. Among them was Ms Michalik, who
was trapped underneath and crushed to death."

Monday morning, February 17, 2003, 2:23am CST:
"Chicago night club stampede kills 21... Witnesses said a fight broke out between two women, and a security guard
used a crowd control agent, perhaps pepper spray or Mace, to break it up. Patrons began to flee the fumes and were told they had to exit down a steep front stairway. Some of those trying to flee apparently tripped or fell in that stairwell, causing a human avalanche. Bodies, living and dead, piled up behind a double glass exit door that was apparently jammed shut by the crush. Patrons said only one door was open to prevent people from sneaking in without paying....Fire Commissioner James Joyce told a news conference there were 21 killed and at least 30 injured. Hospitals reported more than 50 injured....Most of those who died, however, were killed at the bottom of the main front door stairwell."

You are in a club (or at a football game, at a concert, or even at school) and a fight breaks out. While the temptation is there to join the crowds watching and cheering, there are reasons not to move closer to the action. You and many hundred of your closest friends all decide that you want to be in the same place at the same time. Then there is trouble (a gun, a nice, pepper spray). Where do you go? What do you do? How do you get away from this already volatile situation as it escalates? Fights can get worse in many ways, in this case, as the violence was stopped, the panic began.

Another scenario:
You are in the crowded room (could be a club, a basketball game, a concert, or even in the halls at school), and you don't know that a fight has broken out. There are a lot of people, and there is a lot of noise. Then, you find it difficult to breathe. You see a crowd rushing, and you see that they are all having trouble breathing, as well. Panic. Is there a problem? A problem with the ventilation? Is it terrorists? Is it a prank gone bad? Either way, you want out, and the only place you know leads to the outside is the way you came in.

In the ideal situation, this club in Chicago would have been up to code. All exits would have been accessible, and people in the club would not have had to all try to get out the same way. Those who found other exits would not have met locks and blocked doors.

In the attempt to balance preparedness with paranoia, is it possible to go out and have fun in today's world without being worried about what might happen? While it is not only possible, it is imperative.

Questions of the Week:
How do you mentally and physically preparing yourself for the unexpected? How do you relax and have fun after you have thought about what might go wrong? How do you balance being prepared with being paranoid?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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