Medical crews at Houston’s NRG park were poorly trained and ill-equipped to treat people at rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld music festival, where at least eight people were killed and nearly two dozen injured in a stampede Friday night, concertgoers said.
Some 300 others were treated at a field hospital during the “mass casualty incident” at the scene after scores fell to the ground while Scott was performing, police said. At least 11 people were in cardiac arrest.
Madeline Eskins, who was at the concert and confirmed to the Post that she’s an ICU nurse in Humble, Texas, posted on Instagram that she initially passed out during the crush near the stage. She said her unconscious body was apparently “crowdsurfed” out of the packed crowd and when she woke up, “I had a water bottle in my lap and had no clue what happened.”
She looked around and saw that people were being carried out with their eyes rolled back, “bleeding from their nose and mouth” and ended up trying to help security check victims’ pulses. One had none.
A security guard asked her to help and she found no emergency equipment, such as Ambu bags used to resuscitate people who can’t breathe or defibrillators used to shock hearts.
“Some of these medical staff had little to no experience with CPR, didn’t know how to check a pulse, carotid or femoral,” Eskins wrote in her post. She said some people who had pulses were getting unneeded CPR, but there were not enough people to do CPR “on individuals that were actually pulseless.”
“The medical staff didn’t have the tools to do their jobs,” she continued. “And despite the crowd around us trying to get someone to stop the concert, they just kept going. Even though Travis acknowledged that someone in the crowed needed an ambulance.”
The show was shut down a short time later, after Drake had joined Scott on stage.
Similar stories about untrained and ill-equipped staff were posted across social media. “I watched a girl die in front of me all because these ‘medics’ were so ill prepared,” a person who claimed to be a trained medic wrote on Reddit.
Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite was near the front of the crowd and said it seemed the surge “happened all at once.”
“Suddenly we had several people down on the ground, experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode,” Satterwhite said. “And so we immediately started doing CPR, and moving people right then, and that’s when I went and met with the promoters, and Live Nation, and they agreed to end early in the interest of public safety.”
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena acknowledged that the medical personnel stationed at the event were quickly overwhelmed and credited the police and other emergency responders with quick action “trying to secure what was really a chaotic event.”
It’s still not clear exactly what triggered the collapses and deaths. A medical examiner would investigate. The deceased had not been identified as of early Saturday. Officials set up a reunification center at a hotel for family members who had not been able to reach relatives who attended the show.
While authorities said the injuries came after a surge in which a part of the crowd “began to compress” to the front of the stage at around 9:15 p.m., they also suggested something more nefarious might be involved.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said authorities have “heard rumors of people injecting people with drugs” at the show, but added “I think it’s very important that none of us speculate.”
A source close to concert organizers told The Post they believe that is what happened, pointing to a spate of “spiking” incidents at UK bars and clubs as an example of the sort of attack, and suggesting that the people who collapsed were all in the same area of the crowd.
“This was a targeted attack on innocent people, including a child,” the source maintained. “People were being spiked against their own will. The crowd surge was from panic because people were running for safety.”
Scott’s “content teams” will provide video taken by drones and on the ground to investigators, the source added.
The two-day event’s 100,000 tickets sold out within an hour of going on sale in May. About 50,000 people were attending Friday night’s show. Saturday’s performances were canceled.
The collapses followed several injuries earlier in the day, when a crowd rushed the VIP entrance and scrambled into the stadium without going through security checks.
Finner said during a press conference it was too early to know if the deaths or injuries were the result of criminal activity, but his department will investigate any possibilities.
“Until we determine what happened, what caused the surge, we don’t know,” Finner said ABC 13 reported. “We will find out. Is there anything criminal? We don’t know.”
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