144586 tn?1284669764

Fire Drills

Periodic fire drills are mandatory in public facilities in the United States such as schools, senior homes and centers and museums. During the last week I witnessed two fire drills, at two different senior facilities. The area to be evacuated held about 200 seniors in each case, with varying degrees of disability.

(1) In one center (where there was an actual fire) the alarm went off, those with disabilities were quickly identified and personally escorted from the building, and a calm announcement was made twice over the PA system. Everyone was calm and collected. The seniors were instructed not top use the elevators.

(2) At the second senior center the staff screamed out "EVERYBODY OUT - FIRE! continually at the top of their lungs, laughing as the frightened seniors (in the middle of their lunch)  scrambled and bunched at the exits. "GET OUT! GET OUT!" yelled another staff member, clapping his hands and adding "NOW! NOW!". Get along little doggies. The seniors used the one elevator. Improper.  It reminded me of a John Wayne Cattle drive where the cowboys shoot guns into the air to stampede the herd. There was no mention "this is a drill". It is a miracle there was not a trampled ninety-year old with a broken hip. There were three exits, but one was partially blocked by a large refrigerator and the staff told people who were closest to that exit "use the other one". A perfect example of "how NOT to conduct a fire drill".

In many cases deaths and injuries take place from people being trampled on stairways. The last thing one wants to to do is to create panic in such a situation.
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