Mounted patrols add harmony to crowd control
In 1994, the Royal Courtesy Mounted Patrol helped manage a crowd of more than 300,000 muddy and rain-drenched fans at Woodstock II, N.Y. Emergency response procedures came in handy when the troopers had to ride in formation to remove concert-goers who needed medical attention from an excited crowd. Other requests came from artists performing at the concert. The Red Hot Chili Peppers used the mounted services when crowds tried to rush the group as it left the stage.
The Dallas-based Alpha and Omega Services’ Royal Courtesy Mounted Patrol (RCMP) features professionally trained and certified troopers, specializing in weaponless security and emergency response. Troopers wear distinctive uniforms and have an advantage due to a 360-degree observation range, height and the ability to maneuver between parked cars or up and down steep hills. In addition to providing safety through prevention, mounted patrols are effective public relations tools. Indeed, reports indicate that the number of parking lot thefts and other incidents decrease in their presence.
Each year, troopers and their mounts undergo on-site emergency response training in preparation for crowd control and public safety efforts. Exercises include scaling and descending three-and-a-half story hills, climbing up and down stairs on horseback and practicing emergency evacuation formations as well as becoming acclimated to the area’s surroundings.
Should an emergency arise, troopers are trained to ride in formation to evacuate crowds and prevent people from being injured. Formations can be used to aid the movement of a crowd or escort a paramedic team into an area. A box or diamond formation, in which horses and troopers form a box or diamond around the subject to create an equine fence, is helpful when paramedics or an ambulance must be guided into a crowded area.
In any venue where large crowds gather, an action plan for responding to an emergency or crowd disturbance is smart business. While on duty, troopers live and ride by detailed standard operating procedures fashioned after World War I-era cavalry manuals that specify guidelines for all types of emergencies, including panic evacuations due to bomb threats, riots or other types of disturbances.
The working use of horses to protect life and property is not a new concept in North America, dating as it does back to the 17th century with the Spanish conquistadors. Still, while some federal and municipal law enforcement agencies use mounted patrols today, the use of private mounted units for personal and property security is not as common.
The advantages of using horses in crowd management or emergency response situations outweigh other security options such as foot, bicycle, car or motorcycle patrols. Studies indicate a person on horseback equals 10 people to 15 people on foot. Because of height, sheer force and maneuverability, a horse and rider team can gently, but effectively, move people from a potentially harmful situation. In addition, mounted patrols command respect due to appearance and the general public’s fascination with horses.