In Sweet Memory

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On October 28, Sugarland added a final concert to their tour.  They performed in Indianapolis to remember those who were taken at during the stage collapse in August.

A day that started with blue skies and sunshine, ended in devastation.  Just minutes before Sugarland took the stage at the Indiana State Fair, a 70 mph gust of wind took hold of the light beam and tossed it into the VIP section, killing five and injuring 40.

Before hearing this tragic story, I thought the only risk in listening to country music was getting my hopes up of for Mr. Perfect or increasing my chances of heart disease due to fried chicken cravings.  While it makes me happy I can only afford the nose-bleed section, it also scares me.  What if I ever have the opportunity to sit close enough to the singers I regularly twitter-stalk,?  I’m afraid that now I’ll be paying more attention to the beams above their mouth then taking in what’s coming out of it.  But even knowing this, if I had the chance to sing along only feet from my favorite artist, would I?  Most definitely.  I can’t live my life in fear, and I certainly can’t do anything about a collapse.  One, I know nothing about constructing a stage and two, the chances of it happening again seem slim.

This tragedy made me wonder what should have happened to stop the collapse, if anything.  This video says that weather should have been a bigger concern.  In a Wall Street Journal article, they quote a crowd control consultant saying it’s the “wild west” when it comes to consistency. In the same piece it reads that, “The Indiana State Fair had a one-page emergency plan with only general bullet points and fair officials aren’t sure whether anyone is supposed to inspect stages.”

In 1992, Kim Witte studied fear, risk, and danger, and it’s relation to self-efficacy (what we can do to get the desired or intended result).  She provides the formula P x S (the probability of the outcome x the severity of the threat).  This means that if we have control over the situation, we are more likely to understand and be proactive about the risk at hand.  She also discusses the difference between danger and fear risk communication.  When we feel that we can prevent something that is dangerous to us we take the steps to do so, but if it reaches a level of true, emotional fear we cope with it instead of moving toward change.  Basically, danger control is what we strive for, because when people get to fear they have given up.

For example, I can’t take steps to prevent breast cancer and it scares me too much, so I’m just not going to think about it.  Or, in a true country music lovers case, I can’t not attend country concerts, so I’m just not going to think about the chances of the stage falling.

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