Crowd crush behind rise in Hogmanay injuries

New Year revellers at the capital's street party had a good time, despite the crush. Picture HeMedia

New Year revellers at the capital's street party had a good time, despite the crush. Picture HeMedia

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MEDICAL crews dealt with almost a third more revellers at Scotland’s biggest Hogmanay party after it was hit by crowd-crushing problems, an investigation by The Scotsman has found.

An official review of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festivities has found that 123 people were treated at first aid posts within the arena, where chaotic scenes unfolded because of serious congestion on The Mound in the run-up to the bells.

The figure was 30 per cent more than the previous year and far higher than at any point since the event’s capacity was ­reduced from 100,000 to 80,000 in 2009-10.

But when alcohol-related conditions are stripped out of the figures, provided by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay producers Unique Events, the actual rise was more than five-fold.

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And the medical figures revealed that the number of female revellers treated by first aid staff rose by a third, to 76, compared to the previous year’s event. However, organisers insisted that although people were treated for cuts, sprains, asthma problems, head injuries and panic attacks at the most recent event, there were no serious crushing injuries.

Just five people had to be taken to hospital, a lower figure than at any of the previous five events, although Unique Events said this was down to “extensive medical provision” within the party arena, which aims to ease the pressure on hospitals.

The official review found 34 people were transported to a “sleepover” facility, more than three times as many as were taken there five years ago.

The number of police officers working at the most recent street party had been reduced after senior officers insisted organisers be charged for the first time in the 22-year history of the event. Around 70 extra stewards were drafted in after Edinburgh City Council refused to meet a demand for up to £250,000 from Police Scotland.

Hundreds of revellers caught up in congestion at the top of The Mound, where Australian DJ Tom Loud was performing his hit Hot Dub Time Machine show, had to scale spiked fences and clamber over safety barriers to escape the crush.

A spokesman for Unique Events pointed out that the number of patients treated at the event represented just 0.16 per cent of the overall audience.

He said: “For an event of this scale, with 75,000 revellers, to have only three arrests and 123 medical treatments over a six-hour period is testament to the good-natured audience and the professionals working at it. We’ll be working hard with all agencies to maintain our safety record and further reduce first aid treatments in future.

“As with each year, we have held an internal team debrief and attended a full debrief meeting with all agencies involved in the planning and delivery of the event and highlighted the areas which will be reviewed in the planning for 2015-16. This will include The Mound area infrastructure and entertainment to help alleviate congestion.”

A spokesman for the city council said an “ongoing” review would “help inform plans for ­future events”.

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