By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

With the start of the Coachella Festival beginning this week and continuing through April many southlanders will be attending. Sadly, we live in an age where tragedy can strike unexpectedly. But there are some preparation tips to keep in mind.

Thinking of on the tragedy in Seoul Korea on the night of October 29th 2022, a crowd crush occurred where 151 people lost their lives during an outdoor Halloween party. Sadly, I am reminded of other potential “risks” with high crowds such as the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 that killed 60 and injured over 400.

The Coachella Valley will see an additional quarter million people arrive in a short amount of time. The 10, 60, & 15 freeways along with surface streets will be crowded. First Responders will be taxed throughout the valley due to such a high influx of people in hotels, restaurants, bars etc.


The Festival:

Make sure you know what to bring. It’s always warm and windy. Bring empty water bottles. They will have water filling stations. You cannot bring in bottled water. Small tubes of sunscreen? Lip Balm? Backpacks? Check with event organizers to ensure you know what is allowed in and what is not!

If it looks too crowded, event seems unorganized or If you’re getting pushed against those around you, that might be a sign that the event is becoming unsafe. Start looking for an exit!


  • Try your hardest to stay standing.
  • If you can keep your hands at your chest, like a boxer, this protects your rib cage and keeps a space around your lungs so you can breathe.
  • If you fall, curl into a ball and cover your head. DO NOT lay on your back. Several bodies on top of you can equal up to 1,000 pounds of pressure on you suffocating you!
  • After a large crowd push there’s always a brief lull. In these moments try to move diagonally working your way to the side.
  • Maintain situational awareness. Look for additional exits.
  • Keep your eyes open to changes in crowd density and movement.
  • Where comfortable shoes and clothing to move about easily.

Remember, “It doesn’t matter how big you are, how strong you are, if you get caught in a crush, everything is beyond your control” reminds Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.

Lastly, music, alcohol and egos do not mix. The events will change “some” attendee’s personality. If you find yourself in a confrontation back off and do not engage. The small amount of time it takes to just move on and forget about it, will spare you a lifetime of head and heartache, money, jail or hospital time or worse. Here are some “de escalation” tips you can use

Again, remember it will be hot, wear appropriate clothes and shoes, sunscreen and stay hydrated. Enjoy yourself and always think “situational awareness!”