'Societal issues' played Hardwell role

Published Friday, 21 February 2014
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A report by the Odyssey Trust into the major medical emergency declared at the arena, which led to over 100 people needing medical treatment, has said "wider societal issues" played a role.

'Societal issues' played Hardwell role
Police and emergency vehicles at the scene of the incident at the Odyssey Arena (© UTV)

The review by the Odyssey Trust has made seven recommendations and called for tougher legislation and enforcement of the law in regard to people drinking on private hire coaches.

Among the recommendations is the taking up of an offer from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to provide training to staff.

Police said that over 300 people arrived at the venue ahead of the concert by Dutch DJ Hardwell already heavily intoxicated either through alcohol or drugs.

Paramedics treated 40 people outside the Odyssey, where a special temporary medical facility was erected, while another 68 individuals received aid from the private medical team inside the concert.

A total of 18 people were taken to hospital but none were in a serious condition.

The Odyssey Trust review into the incident found that "wider societal issues" such as binge drinking, played a role.

It said the prevalence of young people consuming spirits - particularly young women who eat little and drink vodka before a night out - was an "emerging trend".

It found that, in comparison to previous concerts of the same scale, the "numbers of those being treated for alcohol/drug intoxication and fighting were proportionately similar and normal for the size and nature of the event".

The report stated that "media flurry on the night resulted in extreme reporting on events and created hysteria among the public, particularly on social media platforms".

It also called for tougher legislation and enforcement in regard to people drinking on private hire coaches.

A representative of the Federation of Passenger Transport NI told those behind the report that their members struggled to stop passengers drinking and there was a "lack of political appetite" to enforce the law.

The review does acknowledge however, that whilst the Odyssey Arena will always go above and beyond its statutory duty of care to protect its patrons, there are still huge societal issues with alcohol in Northern Ireland that need addressing.

Odyssey Trust review

The report has made seven recommendations, they include:

  • The Odyssey Arena to provide a medical liaison to assist in the decision making and communication process between the internal paramedic team and those outside the arena, for events they deem necessary.
  • Extra resources to assist in the external operations if necessary.
  • The arena to ensure that all stakeholder personnel quickly meet up if a potential situation which may lead to a major incident begins to develop.
  • Resources deployed on site for events where management deem it necessary to manage media relations and social media platforms to prevent the situation spinning out of control and the public to be kept informed via social media and press statements if necessary to rebut any wild rumours circulating on social media and advise of event end and success of night.
  • To accept an offer from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service for major incident training for the arena medical team.
  • The arena to enhance its awareness of major incident protocol across all emergency services.
  • And wider consultation instigated with interested parties in relation to the booking and arrival of coaches for major events.

Odyssey Trust chief executive Robert Fitzpatrick said: "We hope that there will be an urgent review of the legislation governing alcohol consumption on buses and that there is an examination of the wider societal problem that exists in Northern Ireland regarding the prevalence of irresponsible alcohol consumption and how to tackle it.

"However, it would be wrong of us to suggest that societal issues around the abuse of alcohol did not impact on our own capacity to manage this event efficiently."

He said a detailed event plan was in place and adhered to by arena staff and other agencies involved that night, adding:"Nevertheless, there are measures that can be taken to minimise the risk of a major incident taking place in future."

Mr Fitzpatrick said: "Lessons have been learned and the Odyssey Arena will implement the recommendations made in this report and will continue to deliver world-class service to patrons.

"We understand our duty to patrons and also our duty to the city and beyond to ensure that it continues to be an attractive destination for major acts across all music and sports genres. It is our duty and responsibility to provide this level of entertainment for everyone to ensure that our reputation as a world class city grows.

Health Minister Edwin Poots has said alcohol was available at "pocket money prices" and added many young people turned up at the Odyssey pre-loaded with drink. Many treated were aged under 16.

He has commissioned research on the impact of the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol which could make it more expensive for children to obtain.

The work is expected to be completed within the next few months.

© UTV News
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4 Comments
Taxi Paul in Belfast wrote (277 days ago):
One Driver how many passangers? How is a bus or coach driver going to stop people drinking on his coach. Will it be the passangers fined or the driver? A Bus or coach driver has enough to worry about without having extra responsibility as to what each one of his many passangers may have in their pockets. I can just about manage to stop people sneaking drink into a black taxi. The coach driver or drivers did nothing wrong. Maybe the cost to the NHS should be recouped from offenders for alcohol and drug related incidents People (even young people) are responsible for their own actions. Educate them and if they make bad decisions it is their problem.
Brian in Belfast wrote (278 days ago):
Of course it's a societal issue. We have a messed up culture surrounding alcohol in the UK and Ireland. We don't seem to be able to go out and have a good time without it. And we can't have one or two. We have to get absolutely steaming until we're unable to walk or we're being sick over ourselves. And we're teaching our kids that that's the way it should be done. The UK sits right behind Russia with the amount of alcohol we consume per capita and Russia has nearly two and a half times the population. Ireland is AHEAD of France and Russia in volume of alcohol consumed despite Russia having thirty five times the population.
Denise in Antrim wrote (278 days ago):
How about this. What if the Odyssey stopped selling alcohol in the arena while these events are on. It's very easy for them to apportion blame outside their premises. I attended a concert recently there. It was full of older people who were highly intoxicated because of easy access on the premises which resulted in some fights. I used to go to concerts in the King's Hall and there was nothing like the drink there is in the Odyssey and you know what. We enjoyed ourselves as much. These young people have far too much easy access to alcohol no matter where they go. It is the responsibility of us all not to let these youngsters become alcoholics or die needlessly young. It starts with us showing example and taking responsibility for our own behaviour.
doirecormac in Derry wrote (278 days ago):
I was at the Prodigy concert in the Odessey about 3 years ago and swore I would never be back. The whole night was spent trying to avoid getting hit by beer glasses which were being thrown constantly. I did approach a few security staff but none were interested. I haven't been back since and have no plans to return.
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