Saturday, April 04, 2009

This Is Only A Test

Yesterday at lunch the Big Boss asked myself and the other electrician if we would head over and support the drug rehabilitation clinic folks during an emergency preparedness drill. Sure, we said... whatever the hell that means.

We went over there and watched the nurses line them all up and evacuate them. Six minutes till the all clear, not bad. Then I got an interesting phone call. It was the Big Big Boss telling me to go meet with the Disaster Assessment Team and tell them what the situation was. He then related to me how the imaginary situation included a floor collapse, burst waterlines, severed electrical lines, but no fire at that time.

So we met up with the lady in the area where the pretend incident had taken place and began relaying the "situation" over our radios. It started getting really good when we were asked about investigating the possibility of shutting off a water main. My cohort asked the disaster lady if he could throw a wrench in the works to which she just grinned and nodded.

We could hear the irritation coming back in the radio responses as we told them that the utilities area in the basement was inaccessible. We were also having radio reception problems (just like a real emergency!). For every new twist and turn that we thought up we'd pause and sort out how we, ourselves, would deal with it and toss that information into the mix. This was intensely amusing for me in particular because while I have been through two actual emergencies at the hospital, this was my first drill.

We wound up pretending to partially shut down the electrical system from an auxiliary switching station and getting a pretend DPW crew to turn off the water at the street. This lead to more theorizing about how to keep the steam boilers from exploding due to a lack of supply. After most of the afternoon went by in a post game wrap-up meeting the maintenance crew realized that even those who have been there for two decades don't really have a good understanding of all the stuff that in some cases has been going into these buildings for nearly one hundred hears.

Anyway, said all that to say this: If you ever wind up living through an emergency, have patience for the people dealing with it. Because no matter how many drills have been done, no matter how many manuals have been written, it's still just men and women on the ground figuring it out as they go along.

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1 comment:

  1. Amen Cuz! Why can't the government figure that out? There wasn't a manual for Katrina or the 9/11 bombing. How much money have this Govn't wasted in the last 9 years trying to figure out how to figure out stuff. ya know! Preach on cuz preach on!


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