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Disaster at hilshire

11 Feb 1997

Soc 313

Film Review 2

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


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



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 Reflection

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

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