Officials prepared for Slipknot High-energy concert also comes with injuries

By Dan Linehan

Within seconds of the opening chord, the first circle opens up on the floor of the Alltel Center as a few dozen members of the pumped-up crowd start running in circles and pushing each other around.

The mood is aggressive, but not violent — they aren’t aiming to hurt each other and when someone falls to the floor they’re immediately helped back to their feet.

About 10 minutes later, the first crowd-surfer careens over the barrier at the front of the pit and security guards help the young woman onto her feet. Guided by the guards, she jogs around the barrier and re-enters the fray.

It’s typical for a hard rock concert like Slipknot, which came to the Alltel Wednesday night, but paramedics were caught by surprise with the injuries seen at the Avenged Sevenfold and Buckcherry concert in February.

“We didn’t have a clue,” says Jill Norman, coach of operations for Gold Cross Ambulance.

Kris Keltgen, a paramedic who is leading the Slipknot response team, agreed.

“We were caught off-guard.”

Gold Cross’ two staff members at the February concert were quickly overwhelmed. Thirty people were treated, and 12 went to the hospital. None of the injuries were life threatening.

A committee including paramedics, law enforcement, concert security and Alltel officials formed after that concert to prepare for Slipknot.

Fifteen extra staff from Gold Cross were on duty Wednesday night, and set up a six-bed response center in the Alltel’s ballroom. Norman said the concert’s promoter pays for the extra staffing.

Immanuel St. Joseph’s Hospital didn’t add staff, but the emergency room is always available to “receive patients from any number of incidents or events,” spokesman Kevin Burns said.

Police were prepared for a busy night.

It wasn’t clear as of press time whether they’d get it, considering police said the concert had sold about 3,000 tickets as of Wednesday morning, fewer than half of the sales for Avenged Sevenfold and Buckcherry.


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