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Analyzed the risk of the Pamplona bull run by means of a tool used in industry

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Credit: Government of Navarre

That is, the likelihood of needing all the ambulances deployed every day along the length of the route is extremely small unless extraordinary factors that could interfere in the normal running of this show should occur.

Fermín Mallor-Giménez, Professor of the Department of Statistics and Operational Research, and Javier Belloso-Ezcurra, lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Engineering and Computing and participant in the bull runs, will be presenting the results of this work during the 42nd Congress on Operational Research Applied to Health Services ORAHS to be held from 25 to 29 July in Pamplona. This international event, scheduled to take place at El Sario building on the Arrosadia campus in Pamplona, is organised by the Data, Statistics, Quality and Logistics Research Group (Decyl) and the Smart Cities Institute (both of the NUP/UPNA).

The researchers have studied the bull runs of the last six years (a total of 48 races) in order to identify the risks that exist. "Basically, the risk affects both the runners and the bulls and the sources of this risk are the bulls themselves, the runners and the route," explained Javier Belloso. "As regards the runners, they may incur slight injuries such a falls, scratches or breakages, or worse, which can lead to their deaths in some cases. And the bulls are also put at risk, as they can suffer physical consequences such as broken horns or hooves, apart from 'learning' during the race if someone touches them of if they charge a runner".

The bull, the only risk

The two authors of this study, members of the above-mentioned Decyl research group, have applied a tool used in engineering to manage risk plans, known as AMFE (Modal Analysis of Faults and Effects). "With risk control the idea is that the bull should be the only risk in the bull run so that the runners are not affected by other elements such as the state of the streets, the presence of insufficiently fit runners or if the runner himself does feel well enough to run," pointed out Fermín Mallor. "While in an industrial process what is sought is the absolute minimization of risk, zero risk, in the bull run this is impossible because the essence of this race is in fact the risk."

So various players intervene in the preparation and control of the bull run; their aim is to eliminate any risks generated apart from the bulls and which include the cleaning services, the carpenters who install the fencing, the police officers, the herdsmen and the "dobladores" (People equipped with capes and responsible for getting any bulls remaining in the ring at the end of the race into the pens as soon as possible to protect the runners). "During the bull run one accepts that the bull poses a risk for the runner so the organisers seek to totally minimize all the consequences of that risk through medical assistance," added Fermín Mallor. "That is why the number of ambulances deployed is oversized. The likelihood of needing all the ambulances is very small, about one in 10,000, as long as there are no extraordinary events and the run proceeds in a 'normal' way."

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