Pearl Jam Unaware of Deaths During Concert, Report Says

Sonicnet Music News

Emergency response procedures failed as nine men suffered fatal injuries during Pearl Jam's June 30 concert at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, according to a Danish newspaper investigation.

According to the report published Monday in "Politiken," the music stopped from 11 to 16 minutes after people started falling in the crowded area in front of the festival's Orange Stage. An additional 10 minutes passed before festival staff called 112, the Danish equivalent of 911, the newspaper reported. Roskilde police alerted the local hospital of the accident 21 minutes after that call was placed.

All nine men died of cardiac arrest, the newspaper said. Four were resuscitated at the festival's medical tent and sent to the hospital via ambulance, where three died within minutes and one remained alive until July 5. The medical staff was unable to resuscitate the other five, who were pronounced dead on the scene.

It was the

most serious accident in Denmark since nine people died in a Copenhagen fire in 1975, "Politiken" said.

Because police took so long to notify Roskilde County Hospital, the facility's emergency medical team did not arrive at the festival until after efforts to resuscitate the victims were abandoned, the story said. The newspaper's report was based on interviews, official documents and a recording of the concert.

Roskilde Deputy Chief of Police Bendt Rungstroem told "Politiken" the delay was a "slight imperfection" and that he didn't believe earlier notification would have made any difference in saving lives. Rungstroem was unavailable for comment at press time.

That information did not appear in the preliminary police report, filed in July, the newspaper said. Roskilde police have yet to file their final report on the incident.

A Roskilde County Hospital memo quoted in the story states, "We would have to categorize hospital-police teamwork as poor."

The newspaper report paints a picture of a chaotic scene, where more than 28 security guards struggled to pull people out of the crushing crowd.

"When I got up there, I thought I'd entered a war zone," Heidi Helene Fjordbak, a 28-year-old volunteer guard, told the newspaper. "Normally it takes two of us to pull someone over the barrier, but it was almost impossible. At one point, it took five of us to pull one person up. It was like there was a vacuum underneath them."

According to the report, guards repeatedly tried to alert people onstage that fans had died and that the concert should be stopped. The only person authorized to stop the music was festival manager Leif Skov, but a staff member could not reach him. The band was playing "Daughter" as the staff member hunted down the stage manager.

The newspaper quotes Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis as saying that a stage manager told the band's tour manager there might be a problem but that he was waiting

to confirm it. "Our tour manager announced that the show had to be stopped immediately," Curtis said.

Singer Eddie Vedder then was notified, and the band stopped playing. A spokesperson for Pearl Jam said the band had no comment on "Politiken"'s report.

Injured and dead fans were taken immediately into the facility's medical tent, but the volunteer staff lacked proper medication and equipment.

Niels Jorgen Poulsen is the head of anesthesiology at a nearby hospital and was volunteering at the festival's rave tent when he was called over to the Orange Stage. "There weren't any first-aid bags available," Poulsen told "Politiken." He said the festival medical staff even borrowed an oxygen mask from Vedder, who uses oxygen before he goes onstage.

Poulsen said the staff gave up on resuscitation attempts soon after the tent ran out of adrenaline. "We didn't have enough equipment to effectively treat nine people with cardiac arrest," he told the newspaper.

"But as far as I can see, no amount of medical expertise could have saved these men's lives."