October 12th, 2015


Fire drill (209.0)

The bomb threat in Downtown Ithaca today made me realize that I can't remember the last time we had a fire drill or other evacuation at the building I work in on campus.

I work in a suite of offices on one side of a residence hall, so it wouldn't surprise me if most of the evacuation drills for the building are scheduled in the evening and the middle of the night, for the benefit of the student residents. I'm pretty sure we had at least one drill since I started working here a little over three years ago. Maybe others have been scheduled when I wasn't at work that day, or early enough in the morning that I missed them.

Back when I was in CIT, I was one of the evacuation leaders, or monitors, or whatever they called us. I had a reflective orange vest and detailed instructions for helping people get away from the building and to a specific gathering point where someone could take a roll call or census to see who might be missing. That always struck me as an odd exercise, considering how many people were always out of the office for one thing or another at any given moment. "Is Bob sick today?" "I don't think so. Is he at lunch?" "Nah. Maybe across campus for a meeting?" "Who knows? Did anyone try calling or texting him?"

When the Chapter House burned down in April, one building resident who was unaccounted for at first turned out to be traveling out of town, and had not been in the apartment when the fire started. "We got hold of him on Facebook," Ithaca Fire Department told me for our coverage. I guess these days it's not hard to find people, if they want to be found. If they don't, it's much harder.

Saw someone bemoan on Facebook this afternoon that she had to wait until the bomb threat was cleared so she could go back into her office building to retrieve her purse, which presumably had her car and house keys in it. Someone commented that she always grabs her purse and laptop when evacuating. I admit I always grab my laptop on the way out the door, too, but it doesn't take long and shouldn't slow me or anyone else down on the way out of the building.