Tragic accident on Willie Revillame show revives crowd control issue

January 24, 2019 - 6:23 PM
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Wowowin crowd
Variety show "Wowowin" witnessed a tragic incident during the taping of its opening act when two audience members lost their balance in the bleachers. (Screenshot from 'Wowowin' via GMA Network)

Calls for Willie Revillame and his team to take crowd management seriously surfaced after his program witnessed an injury and death during a studio taping.

Variety show “Wowowin” was taping its opening act on the afternoon of January 22, 2019 when two female audience members got involved in an accident.

The victims, identified as Milagros Espiritu and Estrella Bognot, lost their balance while they were singing and dancing in the bleachers.

Espiritu suffered a fracture while Bognot hit her head in a fire extinguisher. Paramedics rushed them to the nearest hospital but Bognot lost her life.

GMA Network and WBR Entertainment said that they “deeply commiserate” with the families and loved ones of the victims involved.

The incident was not the first tragedy that involved Revillame’s show.

On February 4, 2006, 73 people were killed while around 400 got injured in a stampede that occurred in PhilSports Stadium at Pasig. It was supposed to be “Wowowee’s” first anniversary episode.

Reports indicate that extravagant promises of cash prizes, houses, minibuses and the like drove people—who were mostly from the impoverished sector—to race for the seats in the stadium.

The chaos was further intensified when someone from the crowd purportedly shouted that there was a “bomb.”

The incident at PhilSports Stadium, together with the recent tragedy during “Wowowin’s” taping, prompted some social media users to call for more effective crowd control measures involving Revillame’s programs.

On managing crowds

Crowd management or crowd control is the act of managing and assisting a large group of people in high-profile events like concerts.

It is a measure done to ensure the audience’s safety and it involves cooperation of the management, the security team and the audience members themselves.

In a crowd management guide released by the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive, there are six factors that needed to be taken into consideration.

This involves the planning of the event itself, risk assessment, review of precautionary measures, emergency plans and its procedures, communication and crowd monitoring.

An article on The Sport Journal titled “Crowd Management: Past and Contemporary Issues” enumerated reasons why crowds should be managed properly.

“The more people an event brings in, the higher the odds of something dangerous or reckless occurring,” it said.

“Large gatherings of people come with side effects that can impact how effectively a facility operates and responds to the needs of the crowd. Big crowds can impede or slow down the actions and communication between facility employees and patrons,” the article added.