Kadayawan Festival: How safe are you at parties?

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Aug) – If you’re a parent, chances are, your kids might already be asking for permission that they be allowed to party this Kadayawan. And when your kids say “party” they mean attending those massive scale electronic dance music (EDM) festivals that are being hyped up in social media.

The first concern that comes to mind is safety: how safe are my kids at these parties that gather hundreds, if not thousands, of people in one venue?

Yolly Aviñante, focal person of the occupational safety and health section of the Department of Labor and Employment (and a mother of three), said that her primary considerations when allowing her children to attend events this Kadayawan include location and reputation of event organizers.

She said that she prefers these events to be accessible and to have visible emergency exits.

Event organizers with good backgrounds also matter. “When these people have established themselves to be professional, they are likely to have a network and coordination with safety and security personnel for their events,” she said.

These boost her confidence to allow her children to attend events. Nevertheless, she reminds her children the basic pointers in safety: to be alert, to find a safe spot—preferably in the sidelines—when in a crowd (should untoward commotions or stampedes happen), and to always keep in mind access to emergency exits.

“Emergency exits should be visible and be free of obstruction,” she said, adding that there should be people on standby who know how to respond to emergencies. “I also encourage my kids to bring their own ID, to employ a buddy system—where they can look after each other—and to be constantly conscious of the actions of the people around them.”

Aviñante, who coordinates with organizations and safety compliances for a living, said that the physical structures where these parties are held should be sound. “Hazards posed by unsound structures can be as simple as tripping to as dangerous as electrocution.”

Disaster response

Central 911 chief Emmanuel Jaldon said that tiers of disaster response are mandatory when staging massive scale events like those scheduled in Kadayawan.

“The first level of disaster response should be from the organizer,” he said. He added that organizers should employ their own private security group—including safety officers—who will be on the ready to take on tasks like crowd control. “They should pre-identify exit routes.”

Part of the standard operating procedures in staging events that will bring in lots of people include having a risk management plan. “This plan, which is the responsibility of the organizers, is for the safety and security of the attendees,” he said. Organizer should make sure that this risk management plan is implemented.

Jaldon said that event organizers should always look through the safety standards and recommendations given to them as they acquire their business permit.

The second level of response will come from Central 911; these will come as augmented services to those that are provided by the event organizers.

Part of the disaster mitigation measures that Central 911 has includes the “sanitation of areas” using police dogs (who can sniff potential hazards) prior to the event.

“Drinking is another story,” he said, mentioning that this should be part of the risk management of the organizers. He said that the state of mind of the people under the influence of alcohol are difficult to be figured out; they could potentially become unruly.

“Risk levels increase when these hazards come into play,” he said. “This should be compensated by the organizers by being alert and to know what to look out for.”

And while there are many threats to public safety on the prowl (various forms of terrorism and threats included), he assured that there will be heightened level of alertness during the Kadayawan season. “There will be more people on the ground on top of those personnel who will still deal with day-to-day emergencies.”

Jaldon’s safety tips for the public? To always be on lookout for potential safety threats and hazards, to follow security measures, to stay in designated areas (these should be designed to be safe), to identify safe exit (it is your responsibility to ask where these are located), and to never panic in the event of a commotion; the fastest way out is orderliness.

Jaldon said that he will celebrate the Kadayawan by being prepared and ensuring that the people equally have a good and safe time.

Notes from the event organizers

Kaz Onozawa, chief financial officer of Spectrum Lifestyle Experience, Inc., will be staging the Davao leg of the Invasion Tour for the second time this Kadayawan with Frolic Fox; it will be held in the open field of Crocodile Park.

“We chose Crocodile Park because it’s safe and accessible to PUVs like jeepneys, buses, and taxis,” he said.

The wide open spaces around the venue, he said, will make accessible easy for response teams should untoward incidents happen.

The Cebu-based event organizer said that his team will not be using colored powders for his event because these are potential fire hazards; he said no to this material along with pyrotechnics, which the city does not allow. (Earlier this year, over 500 people in Taiwan were injured when a large volume of this flammable powder caught fire in the air during a pool party.)

Onozawa said that Spectrum is going to ID everybody in the party for security purposes; attendees below 16 years old will not be allowed to enter.

“There will be lots of emergency exits,” he said, mentioning that his team follows international standards and safety measures.

Onozawa said that there are no official organizations or alliances of EDM festival organizers in the world, but there are people who closely look into safety concerns: the agencies from Amsterdam and Hong Kong where international artists are booked for performances.

Managers of these agencies have a manual that contains prescribed requirements that organizers should comply so that talents can perform in these events. These requirements—ranging from aesthetic concerns to safety preferences—cover specifications on stagecraft, lights and sound quality, number of people, and hospitality.

Onozawa said that he is closely coordinating with the city’s responders, the police, and firefighters.

Spectrum has designated a generous number of private security personnel: 60. It has partnered with GrabTaxi to give attendees special ride rates and easy access to and out of the event.

“Our safety officer will be coming from Cebu,” Onozawa said, describing their security plan to have tourist safety as its priority.

The Invasion tour this year is expecting over 5,000 people.

Meanwhile, Kat Dalisay, of Manic Nightnings Productions, said that her team has put a lot of thought and effort into their safety plans. Her event, Arcadia Electronic Music Festival, will be held at D’Leonor Inland Resort, Barangay Communal, Buhangin and is expecting 5,000 to 7,000 people.

There will be spectacle performances to be held in various locations within the 30-hectare venue; this includes mounting a floating stage.

“My suppliers and my Manila-based partner for the technical preparations of the stage have already made safety and backup plans for this,” she said, describing the safety plan on water. “No wires are going to touch the water. Everything will be hanged. We will have electrical engineers on standby during the whole event.”

She said that the water level will be just 2.5 feet to lessen risks of drowning and concerns; there will be 20 life guards during the whole event and no drinks will be allowed to be brought in the pool.

She said that there will be 100 bouncers and 20 security guards during her event, following a crowd ratio; medical personnel will be on standby; a radio communication team will be on surveillance within the area along with barangay tanods and PNP personnel.

“My team has already experienced and handled a crowd of 100,000,” she said. “Since our event is at a new venue we really estimated the safe number of persons that will fit the areas—and that is 6,500. When we reach that we won’t allow anymore partygoers to come inside.”

“We are working hand-in-hand with the police for the security plans: from the moment partygoers hop on our designated bus until the end of the party,” she said.

Her team will follow strict schedules for safety: there will be restricted areas after 6 p.m., and carnival rides end by 9 p.m.; music will continue until 3 a.m.

“We encourage partygoers to ride our bus, and not bring their cars since the roads are so narrow,” she said. “We also want to prevent drunk driving.”

Final notes

As usual, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) city director Vicente Danao Jr. repeats his usual Kadayawan reminders.

He encouraged the public to be vigilant and to be on the lookout for any suspicious persons or activities because there might be groups that will take advantage of the city’s busy situation.

Danao specifically mentioned that everyone should be on the lookout for people who seem uneasy (as evident in eye movement), and those who carry unusual equipment.

Danao reminded Kadayawan goers to refrain from wearing any expensive jewelry and using backpacks. He suggested that people use tote/messenger bags instead because these make it easier for the security personnel to open during inspection.

He apologized in advance for the hassle that the inspections might cause—especially to those who walk around with drinks in cans or opaque tumblers. Danao said that this is highly discouraged because these containers have been used in the past to contain hazardous/dangerous explosive components.

There will also be stop-freeze-search procedures from time to time; these will look into the suspicious persons reported to them.

The public can turn to hotlines and security booth set up around the Kadayawan areas to report any problem. Danao said that they can also report to 911 or the DCPO hotline at 0925-8233276.

“We are asking for everyone’s cooperation and tolerance when it comes to inspection,” he said.