The training and experience of medical staff at the doomed Astroworld Festival has come under the spotlight again after it emerged that the ninth victim was the woman filmed being dropped from a stretcher on her head.
Bharti Shahani became the ninth person to die as a result of the deadly crush at the Travis Scott show on Friday night, with her family confirming she died from her injuries on Wednesday night after spending the last five days fighting for her life in intensive care.
The attorney for Ms Shahani’s family James Lassiter confirmed in a press conference on Thursday afternoon that the 22-year-old Texas student was the same woman seen in the disturbing footage which circulated on social media this week.
“There have been a lot of questions and I think it’s common knowledge but there was a video going round that most people have seen of a young lady falling from a gurney as he were trying to get her out of there – evacuate her,” he said.
“That was Bharti Shahani.”
The graphic smartphone video shows first responders trying to lift the unconscious woman over a metal barrier that separates the crowd from security onto a stretcher.
One leg is seen limply dangling from the stretcher as a group of first responders appear to try to carry the stretcher out of the chaos.
The top of the gurney, where Ms Shahani’s head is, does not appear to be supported and falls to the ground, causing her to land on her head.
Officials wearing event uniforms for Houston Police and the private medical services company ParaDocs are visible in the footage.
Screams are heard from witnesses as she strikes the ground while music continues to blare out in the background.
The video went viral online this week as one of many glimpses into the chaos of the night.
Ms Shahani had been fighting for her life on a ventilator since Friday night after her brain was deprived of oxygen and she suffered multiple heart attacks in the deadly crush at the festival.
The computer programming student at Texas A&M University had gone to Mr Scott’s concert with her sister Namrata Shahani and her cousin Mohit Bellani but they all became separated from each other in the chaos.
While her sister and cousin both survived, Ms Shahani was rushed to hospital with medics performing CPR on her on the way.
She was declared brain dead on Wednesday before she passed away that night.
It is not clear if the fall from the stretcher contributed to the fatal injuries the 22-year-old sustained that night.
However it raises further questions over whether the medics and security staff on site were trained and equipped to deal with what unfolded.
Former firefighter Max Morbidelli, who has medical training and saw the incident involving the woman on the stretcher, told the Los Angeles Times it was “an act of pure negligence” and “the worst thing that can happen to anyone in the emergency medical field”.
Survivors of the deadly crush have said that medical staff were overwhelmed by the tragedy and claimed that some did not appear to know how to correctly administer CPR.
A Texas ICU nurse who was attending the event as a fan of Mr Scott spoke out in an Instagram post to say she was “disturbed” by the lack of experience the medical staff appeared to have with CPR.
“I don’t think ive ever been more disturbed. Some of these medical staff had little to no experience with CPR. didn’t know how to check a pulse, carotid or femoral,” Madeline Eskins wrote on Instagram.
“EDIT LET ME STATE THESE MEDICS ARE NOT TO BLAME, but a few of them did not have experience in situations with people losing pulses.”
Ms Eskins said she saw some staff even giving CPR to casualties who still had a pulse.
“Compressions were being done without a pulse check so ppl who had a pulse were getting CPR, but meanwhile there was not enough people to rotate out doing compressions on individuals that were actually pulseless,” she said.
“The medical staff didn’t have the tools to do their jobs. and despite the crowd around us trying to get someone to stop the concert they just kept going. even though travis acknowledged that someone in the crowed needed an ambulance.”
“The medic yelled to see who knew CPR. And I stepped in and took over again,” he said.
A 56-page event plan for Astroworld, which came to light this week, has also revealed that some staff were warned not to administer CPR.
The document, titled “Astroworld 2021 Event Operations Plan”, detailed the preparations in place and the chain of command in the event of medical emergencies at the festival.
It reveals that only certified personnel were permitted to administer first aid and CPR to people in need during the event.
“Event personnel will be limited to providing first aid and CPR treatment at times other than during the event,” it reads.
“Only certified employees (if any) are permitted to provide this response.”
Any further medical aid required on the day of the event must be escalated to the on-site medical provider through event control, the document states.
Communication between the different on-site agencies appears to have posed another problem.
A fire department union leader said that firefighters weren’t given radios to contact EMTs but were left to rely on using their mobile phones, at a time when networks were overloaded by the volume of users in the crowd.
However, one medic pushed back at the criticism in a TikTok video, where he described medical staff being outnumbered by festival-goers in need of life-saving medical attention on Friday night.
In a three-part TikTok video posted under the account name @remi.rich, the man who says he worked as a medic at the festival explained how he found three unconscious people in just 10 minutes in the crowd at Travis Scott’s show.
Officials said around 300 people were treated for injuries at a field hospital at the NRG Stadium while others were rushed to hospital.
Eight people died in the immediate aftermath, with the victims ranging in age from 14 to 27.
Ms Shahani became the ninth victim this week while nine-year-old Ezra Blunt continues to fight for his life in the ICU.
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