At least 74 people were killed and hundreds injured after soccer fans rushed the field in the seaside city of Port Said Wednesday following an upset victory by the home team over Egypt's top club, setting off clashes and a stampede as riot police largely failed to intervene.
It was a bloody reminder of the deteriorating security in the Arab world's most populous country as instability continues nearly a year after former President Hosni Mubarak was swept out of power in a popular uprising.
The melee _ which followed an Egyptian league match between Al-Masry, the home team in the Mediterranean city, and Al-Ahly, based in Cairo and one of Egypt's most popular teams _ was the worst case of soccer violence in Egypt and the deadliest worldwide since 1996. One player said it was "like a war."
Adequate preparation for large sporting events cannot be over emphasized. Authorities must be prepared for any eventuality and provide the necessary resources in terms of budget, manpower and equipment.
Multi Casualty Incident (MCI) and cooperation protocols for all emergency services must be implemented and thoroughly rehearsed on a frequent basis.
Apparently this was not the case in Egypt where total chaos was observed at the scene of the incident.
Police and ambulance crews were totally overwhelmed and improvised an ineffective response.
Security forces were totally unprepared and could not control the crowd.
There was no structured chain of command for the ambulance service which didn't make any attempt to manage the MCI ( establishing command, cooperation with other agencies, triage, staging, treatment areas, etc )