Mass Gatherings Health Report

Article excerpt

The majority staff of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security has released a report entitled, "Public Health, Safety, and Security for Mass Gatherings."

Mass gatherings pose special challenges in terms of management and control, especially considering their value as targets for terrorism and other crimes. The terrorist goal of attacking cities in order to kill and injure the most people--and otherwise have the greatest impact for the least amount of effort--applies to mass gatherings as well. All large-scale mass gatherings need to be protected in the post-9/11 world.

Mass gatherings can be categorized in a number of different ways. Mass gatherings occur over different periods of time. Some are one-day events, such as the Super Bowl. Others extend for longer, such as the Lollapolooza music festival. Still others are composed of a series of one-day events, such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA's) "March Madness."

The report states, "It is clear that support personnel at these venues are doing the best they can with what they have and that their efforts are commendable." Personnel supporting these events, however, need assistance in three particular areas: countering biological threats, collaborative planning, and partnering across sectors.

The report finds that biological agents--whether introduced intentionally or unintentionally--will likely cause greater numbers of people to become ill or die at long-term mass gathering venues for the simple reason that more people are concentrated in these geographic areas than is normally the case. …