Movie: Disaster at Hillsborough


The movie "Disaster at Hillsborough" showed the complexity of a stampede.
From the build-up of people outside the gate, to the disaster that ended in the
death of 95 people.
The film started out outside the stadium where 95 people died at a
soccer game. The stadium was not equipped for the masses of people to show up
all at the same place at the same time. According to the officer interviewed
there was no plan in case of an emergency and no problems anticipated. The
atmosphere outside the gates was pleasant and people were looking forward to a
good game. The stampede started when the people in the rear realized that the
game was to start before they were going to get in. The stampede could possibly
been averted if the kickoff were delayed but the man "in charge" refused to
delay. Just as at the "Who" concert the people in the rear of the line were in
an acquisitive panic to get into the stadium. This pressure was recognized by
the police in the front of the line and due to poor communication nothing could
be done to stop it. A large gate "gate C" was finally opened to let off the
pressure in front. This is when the true disaster occurred. People funneled
straight onto the already full pens and created the stampede which killed the 95
people. People in the rear were in an acquisitive panic and the people in the
front who were getting crushed were in a fearful panic. The emergency gates
would open but the police, not realizing the situation, kept people in and
closed the gates.

This example could not be anymore perfect to show a stampede and panic.
All four components were met. (1) Partial entrapment; the reality is complete
entrapment. As at the Who concert the only avenue of escape was blocked by the
police. (2) Perceived threat; this comes from both ends of the panic. The
people at the rear were threatened by the fact that they would miss the kickoff
of the game or even not be able to get into the game. The people at the front
were facing the threat of being crushed. (3) The partial breakdown of escape
routs is obvious from the front. The gates to get out were blocked by the
police and there was a high fence blocking everyone on all sides except the
tunnel which was blocked by people trying to get into the pens. (4) Front to
rear communications breakdown occurred when the people at the fence realized the
situation and could not communicate it to the people at the rear to keep the
people from crowding up the tunnel. The biggest thing that caused this disaster
was the failure of control by police and the communication breakdown. Personal
I see a correlation between this stampede and the riot in L.A. in that
the leadership failed. The chief at Hillsborough froze and lost his capacity to
control the situation. In L.A. the chief also lost his capacity of control. In
both situations there was no plans for emergency procedures. In L.A. the police
were undertrained and in Hillsborough there was just no plan in case something
went wrong. The saddest part about these disasters is that they could possibly
been prevented

Category: Social Issues