08 December 2008

3:30am Fire Alarm

It's now 4:24am an I've just stood outside for nearly an hour while they "clear the building" of a fire alarm in Northumberland House, my place of residence in fine Central London. It took me straight back to the days of South Side at AU, incessant fire alarms going off again and again and again as pathetic fraternity pledges set them off to prove their supposed manliness.

My thoughts, however, have more to do with the general lack of preparedness and safety involved with this drill. At AU student staff and live-in full-time staff swung into action, directly people out, clearing the building and ensuring safety. Everyone knew what to do because we had been told what to do.

Here, it was, for lack of a better term, complete pandemonium. People were taking the elevator to the ground floor. A majority of folks didn't even go outside, and were just milling about in the lobby and entryway. I arrived downstairs to find a girl - apparently desk staff - pounding on the fire indicator board while yelling into a walkie-talkie, "the lights are flashing and it's making tons of noise. I don't know what's going on!" This was followed by her commandeering a megaphone then proceeding to yell at everyone to "get outside RIGHT NOW!" Listen strange girl, we don't even know who you are and we have absolutely not been told once what to do in case of an emergency. There are no leaders in the building that people know and trust because there are no Resident Assistants, or Resident Directors for that matter. How about you just settle down and focus on those blinking lights.

Say what you will about Americans "overdoing," but all 23 times that fire alarm went off my first semester, I knew exactly what I was supposed to do.

Safety first Britain. Safety first.


Kyle Taylor

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