Cardinal cock-up

first_imgCalls to paramedics, an insufficient number of security officers and overcrowding caused chaos at the Cardinals’ Cocktails event last Saturday.  In a letter of complaint to the President of the Christ Church drinking society, the Union’s bar manager, Earl Smith, criticised the security and lack of a separate first aid team.He also pointed out that the emergency service had to be called three times.Between 550 and 700 guests attended the Cardinals’ party hosted at the Oxford Union, where unlimited drinks were served. However, the guest capacity for the event was 500, resulting in overcrowding of the debating chamber and the marquee.Sam Martin, the President of the Cardinals society admitted that  the event “did get busy”, but he was unsure how many guests exactly attended the event as “it is very difficult on the night to tell how many people are in”.Mae Penner, a second-year linguist, said, “It was very crowded, to the point that you were crushed.” David Thomas, an Exeter student who also attended the event agreed, “To be honest, there were just too many people there.“That got the security stressed, and the pressure led to some questionably excessive behaviour by security staff, who seemed to have decided that  everyone in black tie was a threat.” There were also problems with the number of security guards.The Cardinals hired only 5 security guards. Union regulations stipulate that one security member has to be assigned per 100 people, but those present claim there were more than 500 guests.Another concern was that there was no separate first aid team, meaning that security officers trained in first aid had to be redeployed to attend to medical situations. An anonymous attendee of the event commented, “Given the massive number of people attending, I was very surprised at easy it was to gatecrash. I and a couple of friends got in quite unproblematically through a window in the bar.”The letter of complaint also mentions the aggressive behaviour of gate crashers, which resulted in one of the guards having his thumb crushed. Barman Smith wrote, “One of the security was ordered by someone other than myself to look after a musician that was playing in the tent, which left the St Michael’s gate being unattended and resulting 10-15 gate crashers entering and it was a hassle to find them and kick them out. “A fight broke out at the gate when the gate crashers were thrown out which resulted in one of the security having his thumb crushed by the gate.”This was confirmed by Shaun from the Tunstan SIA security company, which was used during the event. He said, “James had his thumb hurt in the gate, there were no broken bones, but some torn ligaments…he’ll live.” He added, “He tore his ligaments as he ejected 6 people that were not invited, one of the gatecrashers threw the gate back at him.” The emergency services also had to be called three times to take people to A & E, following excessive alcohol consumption.Sam Martin admitted, “Unfortunately, the student mentality can mean that some people drink beyond their limits- in lesser cases our bar staff offered them tap water but we always ensure that if clearly necessary, these people are dealt with appropriately by medical staff.“Such instances are obviously regrettable, but for the majority [of people] Cardinals’ Cocktails proved to be another successful and enjoyable event.”The extensive criticism of the event led Stuart Cullen, the President of the Oxford Union, to ask, “would it be responsible for us to let you hold the event here ever again?”Martin denied claims that the event was overcrowded. He also said that the contract between the Cardinals and the Oxford Union Society does not stipulate the allowed numbers.The contract signed in September 2009 does not mention any numbers specifically, but refers to “requirements set down for an event like this”. During the Standing Committee on Monday Sam Martin outlined steps to be taken to prevent any future problems. He mentioned increasing the number of security and closely monitoring the number of people attending the event. He said on the night, “We sold four hundred advanced tickets and the safety and security of our guests is always our number one priority.“We always take steps to ensure there is more than adequate security and first-aid provision on hand and all necessary health and safety precautions were taken.”Stuart Cullen said that he was “disatisfied that the Cardinals have no idea how many people were in attendance. I feel this is a problem.“Union staff were unhappy and on that basis so am I,” he said.last_img read more