HOUSTON – Houston Fire Department Assistant Chief Ruy Lozano said no HFD personnel was inside NRG Park during the Astroworld Festival.
He said instead, units were outside at the command station.
“It’s really not part of our scope,” Lozano said. “Our scope is to respond to 911 calls and to the citizens of Houston. Those 102 EMS units, they’re running 24 hours a day making close to a thousand calls a day. The reality is, we don’t have the capacity to become a third-party agency inside an assembly.”
Lozano said the department was not providing medical support for the event because concert producers hired a third-party service. He added that leaders with the department were nearby during the festival and in constant communication with the medical service provider on the scene when chaos ensued.
“Our chiefs on the ground chose to deploy a task force of EMS task forces and EMS transports, which were 11 ambulances right off the bat,” Lozano said.
The department isn’t investigating what happened Friday night, but Lozano said they are reviewing all of their policies to figure out best practices moving forward.
Meanwhile, Chief Samuel Pena said while appearing on the TODAY Show that everyone involved in the event should take some responsibility, including rapper Travis Scott.
“The artist has command of that crowd, in my opinion. And this is my opinion right now because everything is going to be fleshed out throughout this investigation, but certainly, the artist, if he notices something going on, he can pause that performance, turn on the lights and say, ‘Hey, we are not going to continue until this thing is resolved,” Pena said.
Following this chaos, Lozano wants county and city leaders to consider ending events without fixed seating.
“You’re able to really control crowd movement. You’re able to control your exits of pathways,” Lozano said. “At the end of the day, it really provides command and control for the event of this magnitude. I think we should consider moving away from open-air events and go back to traditional brick-and-mortar assembles where there’s an arena or concert hall. To me, that seems to be the best choice for the future.”