Lag B’Omer is a Jewish religious holiday that occurs on the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar.
Each year, Lag B’Omer brings tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews to Mount Meron in northern Israel.
The large crowd usually lights bonfires, prays, and dances as part of the celebrations.
In 2021, it was estimated that over 100,000 people attended the festival. But this year, the festival ended in tragedy.
In one of Israel’s deadliest civilian accidents, 45 people were killed (including 4 Americans), and about 150 were injured when a stampede broke out.
The stampede occurred when a large number of people tried to pass through a narrow tunnel during the event. People began falling on top of each other near a set of stairs.
One of the survivors said that after people fell on the stairs, those behind kept going and no one seemed to stop.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was, “one of the worst disasters that have befallen the state of Israel.”
There were reports that police barricades set up for the festival prevented people from escaping.
The Justice Ministry said the police’s internal investigations department was launching a probe into possible criminal misconduct by officers.
Now, whether it’s a concert, holiday, or a bug-out situation, large stampedes can and will occur.
The easiest way to avoid this type of incident is clearly to stay away from large crowds, but this isn’t always possible.
So, here are a few things to keep in mind if you ever get caught in a crowd and a stampede breaks out.
When you were a kid you probably remember your teachers telling you to walk, never run.
This is never truer than when panic breaks out in a crowd.
If you start running, you will attract unwanted attention. People might push or shove you as you are running by.
Walk quickly and keep your head down. Think about being the “grey man.” You want to blend in as you move.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. During these times cash is king.
For example, if you are trying to get away from a crowd your best option might be getting into a car.
So, if you find someone in a car, giving them a crisp $100 bill might get you a ride.
Or if you are trying to move away from a crowd but come to a locked door, a security guard might let you through for some cash.
My point is, if you are headed to a big event keep some cash with you. It could save you from a stampede.
Move at an angle:
When you are trying to get out of a crowd, you don’t want to move against it, but you do want to get away from the crowd.
You do this by moving at an angle until you find a way out.
When you get to the side of the crowd keep moving. Don’t stick around to see what happens.
If possible, get inside a safe building where you can look out windows for threats.
If you go inside a building, look for another exit in case the crowd starts following you.
Don’t go up any stories in a building as this could trap you.
This is in no way anything against the police. Quite the opposite. Because usually, where the police are focused is where the heaviest crowd will be.
Which is exactly where you don’t want to be.
So, if you are attending a crowded event avoid police or security.
Chances are they will be dealing with trouble makers and you might get into a more crowded area.
Plus, in a serious crowd panic, the police won’t be able to help you. There isn’t much they can do to stop a mob of people moving in a specific direction.
Bottom line: anytime you attend a large gathering be prepared before you go.
Have a map of the area nearby and know your exit routes.
Hopefully, you never get stuck in a crowd of panicked people.
But, if you ever do, these tips can help you get away before you get trampled.