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#100223 - 07/19/07 08:37 PM Re: Everybody Immediately Evacuate The Building (long)
Jeff_M Offline

Registered: 07/18/07
Posts: 665
Loc: Northwest Florida
Just one quick comment on your 2nd observation

"2) My office's emergency procedures failed miserably. In all the drills we have been told that in the event of an emergency information would be communicated telling us the nature of the emergency and the suggested actions we should take. All we got was "evacuate the building immediately" over the PA. For all we knew the building was about to come down on our heads, when in reality we were relatively secure. This led to confusion."

Would it be possible for you to take a leadership role in improving your office's emergency procedures? You seem like a thoughtful guy and would do a fine job, I'm sure. Moreover, now seems like a good time to step up, while the event is fresh in everyone's mind. Also, it would give you a good excuse to have more of your "stuff" at hand, perhaps access to keys, etc. What should be in an office plan would make a good thread itself, as well.


#100229 - 07/19/07 08:59 PM Re: Everybody Immediately Evacuate The Building (long) [Re: Jesselp]
Jesselp Offline
What's Next?

Registered: 07/19/07
Posts: 263
Loc: New York
Thanks for all of the thoughtful responses so far.

To answer some questions, and how I followed up on some of my issues:

- I do not carry an actual briefcase, I just call it that out of habit. It's more of a messenger-type bag so it is not quite so unwieldy.

- I knew that my wife had picked up our son and was on her way home because I stop by the daycare center to see them off at the end of the day, before returning to my desk.

- I went to the daycare center today and received a briefing from the director on their emergency procedures. I now have a card in my wallet with the center's primary, secondary and tertiary(!) evacuation locations, as well as the cell phone numbers of both the director and assistant director. At least I'll know where to look, and the tertiary location happens to be in my wife's office building.

- To add to our communications options, I'm thinking of adding a small FRS radio to my wife and my office bags. We only work 1/2 mile from each other, and have line of site between our offices up Park Avenue. We could agree that if cell phones don't work, we turn the radios on to a pre-arranged channel and start calling on a regular basis. Thoughts?

- My work BOB is now secured by velcro to the side of my desk. It is bright orange and there is no way I can not see it if I'm heading to the exit. I'm going to permanently add a pair of comfortable walking shoes.

Keep the suggestions coming!

#100230 - 07/19/07 09:09 PM Re: Everybody Immediately Evacuate The Building (l [Re: Jeff_M]
JohnN Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 966
Loc: Seattle, WA
Thanks for sharing. I don't have much time right now, but I thought I'd throw out a few things, in no particular order:

- Don't count on the PIM/text communications working. Certainly as many alternatives as possible are good, but they may not work.

- Talk to the daycare about their willingness to give you your child in these cases. Perhaps you know all the staff, but consider if there is a disaster if they are going to hand over a kid to someone who says they are his parent and if they are going to want to take the time to verify that you are the parent, etc.

- Keep in mind you may not always be near your office so your bag may or may not be easily accessable, even if you remember it. I have a bag in my office, but I consider there to be a reasonable chance that I won't be able to get it. (I also have a kit in my car, but I figure there is a good chance I wouldn't be able to reach it either as in an earthquake, it's likely to be flattened. But the more kits the more likely you'll be able to use one of them.)

- Consider having the bag in your office being a backpack. Much easier to grab and go and you can re-shuffle your gear once you get out of the immediate danger area.

- It isn't clear to me that someone should have pulled the fire alarm. The building itself in this case was not unsafe. Forcing the issue w/o actual information about the situation might be doing more harm than good.

- I would actually consider the fact that your child is in the building a huge plus. Better to have him where you can get him and take charge of his safety than have him miles away from you and have to deal with how you would get him.

- While some might think it excessive, I think a hardhat, crowbar, masks, some gloves and a headlamp to be good office emergency items in case the building is damaged.

- Good call on your interaction with your friend regarding the stairs. Sometimes we condition ourselves in unhelpful ways and you acted very rationally.

- I agree we want better information, but I suspect the level of information given in the announcment is probably fairly typical (if not better) of what we can expect in an emergency. It was good that you kept trying to analyse the nature of the threat. A digital trunking scanner probably would probably be helpful.

- Good call on the comment about having a way to carry your son.

- I'd have a good FAK in your kit.

- While others have mentioned minor issues, I'd say the only real mistake you made was not grabbing your gear. I'd say if you only make one mistake you did really well. And next time you are probably much less likely to forget.

Good job and thanks again for sharing.


Edited by JohnN (07/19/07 09:12 PM)

#100232 - 07/19/07 09:18 PM Re: Everybody Immediately Evacuate The Building (l [Re: Russ]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Since you live in NYC and "things" seem to happen there, and since your child is a priority, maybe you and your wife could start a new habit: as soon as she's picked up the child, text you that fact, every day, every time. If something happens and you haven't received that message, you'll know what you need to do next. This time, the time factor allowed you to assume (correctly) that the child was picked up. What if the incident had happened very close to pickup time?

As was pointed out, briefcases are a nuisance. You might bring in an empty backpack and leave it in a desk drawer. In case of evacuation, just dump the contents of your briefcase into the backpack and go.

Blast's baby sling is a superb idea. You might even be able to wear it under your backpack. Pack in back, baby in front.

Re: the fire alarm. Most buildings have fire alarm triggers on all floors. If everyone else has forgotten, couldn't you trigger the alarm on the way out?

If you have weekly/monthly meetings, you might ask why the company's emergency procedures failed so badly. Make suggestions. One could be to label where the various stairs go.

Did you suggest to anyone besides your friend to take the stairs? If not, why not?

Overall, I think you did a reasonably good job. You would have gotten more points if you hadn't forgotten your kit, but I suspect that won't happen again. Like they say, we learn more from our mistakes.


#100233 - 07/19/07 09:20 PM Re: Everybody Immediately Evacuate The Building (l [Re: Jesselp]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4987
One of the common questions on forums such as this is "What's a good survival knife?". The answer that always shows up sooner or later is "the knife you have on you when an emergency happens". (That's one of the reasons D.R. developed the RSK Mk 1.) Anyway, the best survival kit is what you have on your person.

If it was me, while keeping some evac specific things in a small kit in or attached to your desk is a great idea, I'd be looking at that messenger bag to carry kit items with me all the time. Who's to say you'll be in your office when you need the kit? You may need it during the commute. Get some comfortable walking shoes and wear them to/from work. Leave the good shoes at your desk.

Whatever -- good thread.

#100236 - 07/19/07 09:28 PM Re: Everybody Immediately Evacuate The Building (long) [Re: Jeff_M]
acropolis5 Offline

Registered: 06/18/06
Posts: 348
Jess, greetings from a fellow NY Metro urbanite. Guys some of us like city life and are determined not to let the Zombies or the fear they engender, drive us out. Good thought to improve your pocketable EDC. In my experience the following is OK even in high security buidings: 1 or 2 hot ironed orange bandannas,carried in a gerber breastmilk bag, you can also attach some flat rolled duct or Gorilla tape; key chain with 2 photons (or flashlight of your choice), Swiss
-Tech Util-Key;compass, Bison or other whistle, P-38, aluminum capsule with meds; in your wallet, cash, various denominations,$100-$500, 4 quarters, flat magnifier,emergency ID info card, credit card, license, etc.; 3M N-95 9211 respirator (very flat); cellphone and if you don't have to go thru a metal detector; a Leathererman Juice Tool or SAK of your choice. By the way, good catch on deciding to head up-wind. I'm not sure I would have thought of it as soon as you did. Lastly, my briefcase carried emergency kit is packed in a North Face fanny pack which has its own bottle pockets and compression straps.

#100238 - 07/19/07 09:34 PM Re: Everybody Immediately Evacuate The Building (l [Re: Susan]
thseng Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/24/06
Posts: 900
Loc: NW NJ
Originally Posted By: Susan
Re: the fire alarm. Most buildings have fire alarm triggers on all floors. If everyone else has forgotten, couldn't you trigger the alarm on the way out?

In this particular case, somone who did not know the situation taking the initiative to trigger the fire alarm would probably have caused EMS to be dispatched to the building where they were not needed at all.

If the building manager can trigger the internal fire alarm without causing EMS to be automatically notified, that would certainly help communicate that the building should be evacuated. I know that where I work, they use the actual alarm to conduct fire drills, but the FD isn't called, or course.

I'm wondering why they decided to evac the building - no matter what the cause of the explosion, it would probably have been better to shelter in place at least until more info was available.
- Tom S.

"Never trust and engineer who doesn't carry a pocketknife."

#100239 - 07/19/07 09:36 PM Re: Everybody Immediately Evacuate The Building (l [Re: Russ]
Themalemutekid Offline

Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 351
Loc: New Jersey
Thanx for sharing your experience with us all. Great first post. I have one suggestion, How about a multi-tool for your breifcase? I understand that a knife in your work environment, would just raise eyebrows.A good multi-tool with a good locking blade wouldn't, just something to consider.
....he felt the prompting of his heritage, the desire to possess, the wild danger-love, the thrill of battle, the power to conquer or to die. Jack London

#100240 - 07/19/07 09:52 PM Re: Everybody Immediately Evacuate The Building (l [Re: Jesselp]
Eugene Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 2823
In a way the messed up evacuation was to your advantage. We learned that on 9/11 when my wifes work evacuated the lawyers before the staff and a couple other people have mentioned similar stories to me, that those in charge of the evacuations are not always looking out for you, sometimes they have to look out for 'more important people' first. So you were able get out ahead of the crowd puts you at an advantage.
I'd try to add a little to your EDC so if your away from your desk and can't get to your gear your still prepared. A handkerchief in your pocket won't look out of place but could cover your nose and mouth to prevent breathing in too much dust for example.

#100241 - 07/19/07 10:02 PM Re: Everybody Immediately Evacuate The Building (long) [Re: Jesselp]
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3561
Loc: Spring, Texas
Just a thought, but could you hide a few things in the stairwell somewhere? Certainly nothing expensive OR suspicious-looking. Maybe just a few dust masks, first aid kit and a cheap LED light.

Sidenote about baby sling: you CAN wear a backpack with them.

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