Ok..normally I’m a pretty even tempered person and not much really gets me riled...but today was one of those days! At 2:30 the PA system crackled into life – “Over the next several minutes we will be having an evacuation drill for floors 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6.” A mighty collective groan was heard as computers were locked, phones hung up and jackets and car keys grabbed. I work on the 6th floor (there are a total of 9 floors in my tower with an average of 400 people per floor so you can do the math) and have come to dread these routine exercises. Not that I begrudge the time away from my desk, but because of the behaviour one must endure as you work your way down several flights of stairs.
Keep in mind this is a building full of (mature?) adults, not high school students, who have been well versed in the procedure...make your way to your assigned exit, walk down the inside of the stair well, keeping the wall side free for emergency personnel to make their way upwards. NO talking – you’d think that would be logical so one could be informed with further PA announcements wouldn’t you. But perhaps staff feel they will be more up to date if they keep checking their Blackberry’s, or maybe even the person next to them can reveal something new in between giggles and jokes. Why, one women even felt it was necessary to drag her wheeled carry-all behind her on the stairs! And, hey..how are those spiked heels working for you?
I long for stationed fire wardens to grow some stones and address these inconsiderate, immature people who put my life at risk, and in a real emergency if their selfish behaviour gets me killed, I will be some T’d off! If not for the fact that I would put floor searchers at risk, I’d stay behind at my desk and let the herds go first. I think I am more fearful of being trampled than an actual fire or explosion.
There is some comfort in knowing I’m not the only one who feels this way; as I left one of my managers commented she had already received several email complaints about the exercise. But nothing ever gets done!
I have a few suggestions:
Have the fire department attend one or two of these drills and just as in real life, they need to make their way up the stairs, with all their equipment - no doubt they know very well how to treat these situations with the seriousness and respect that is so sadly lacking.
Confiscate phones, ipods, coffees, etc on the spot.
Repeat the drill over and over until we achieve a passing grade
Confiscate the security pass card we all have to wear at all times and tell the offender they will have to see their manager to get it back.
Surely there must exist an educational video of the aftermath of an actual large scale evacuation that was not successful- required viewing for offenders.
Phew...I think I feel somewhat better getting that off my chest! I live in hope to see some improvements with these drills, but seriously I believe grade school children do a better job. Sorry for the rant, but maybe, just maybe, someone reading this will see how deadly serious these practice drills are, and maybe, just maybe, they see where they can make a difference...and save a life.
Thanks for listening...