O2 Brixton Academy Medical Team Woefully Understaffed on Night of Asake Crowd Crush, Says BBC

O2 Brixton Academy
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O2 Brixton Academy
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Photo Credit: Dr. Neil Clifton / CC by 2.0

The trained medical team provided at the O2 Brixton Academy for the night of the Asake crowd crush event was understaffed for an event that size, says a new report from the BBC.

A new BBC report finds that only half of the recommended number of medical staff were on-site at the O2 Brixton Academy on the night of the crowd crush at an Asake concert in December. 

Industry guidelines suggest that an event of that size should have at least ten medical personnel on-site, including a paramedic and nurse. Two whistleblowers recently approached the BBC, after which the medical cover provider Collingwood Services confirmed they sent only five individuals to work the venue the night of the crowd crush event — and no paramedics or nurses were present.

Collingwood Services confirmed to the BBC that five trained medical personnel were in attendance at the Asake show: two student paramedics, two “first responders,” and one “EMT” — but the BBC notes that these are vague terms that do not indicate the qualifications of the staff Collingwood sent to the show. 

According to the whistleblowers, not only was the Asake show understaffed, but Collingwood Services had left several previous events understaffed, and “very often they would just tell you the extra staff were running late, but they would never turn up.”

The BBC also received photos from one of the whistleblowers of seemingly out-of-date medical supplies used by Collingwood at the Islington Academy. The Academy Music Group operates both Islington and Brixton Academy.

Collingwood said that “all staff present were qualified to carry out the scope of practice they were contracted to perform” and that it was confident that its team had “responded speedily, efficiently, and with best practice.”

According to the BBC’s review of event industry guidelines — in particular, the Purple Guide — a sell-out show at the Brixton Academy (which has a capacity of just under 5,000) should have on-site eight first aiders, a paramedic or emergency care practitioner, and a nurse or emergency nurse practitioner.

The BBC also alleged that the security team on-site that night was understaffed. Some stewards at the doors are said to have conspired to sell fake tickets to allow extra people into the venue for what was already a sold-out show. The Brixton Academy is currently closed after its license was temporarily suspended while London police investigate the crowd crush incident.