In the past seven days I was involved in two fire alarm situations in Rye, which were alarming to me by the delayed response of the other adults present.
The first happened during the Osborn School Fair: with the halls packed with bodies, the piercing sound of the fire bell rang throughout the building. I noticed the children stop what they were doing and look to the adults for direction. Most of the adults continued to engage in the activity they were doing, so the kids followed suit, although they looked uncomfortable doing so, as it was not following the protocol they have been trained to do. Instinctively, I began herding everyone outside through the nearest exit (even though they gravitated towards the front of the school to see if this was “real” or not). In an emergency, seconds count. I saw my daughter exit safely and then returned to sweep the bathrooms and hallways to be 100% sure there was no one left inside.
The second situation was at an an early morning basketball game as Resurrection School. As I approached the building, the fire alarm was ringing, with flashing lights throughout. I instructed my daughter to wait outside and went in to evaluate. The team warmups were going on unaffected. Again, the children seemed more disturbed that they were being guided to ignore the sirens and continue their activity. I loudly and assertively told everyone to exit the gymnasium immediately, and again swept the rooms for stragglers.
Fortunately, both incidents were false alarms and the fire department arrived promptly to clear us for fast re-entry. However, when you hear an alarm bell, don’t assume it’s just nothing. Pay attention; unless told otherwise, exit the building immediately and calmly.
Let’s reinforce to our children that their monthly school training is implemented outside of school, so that when a real disaster strikes, we all have the blueprint to survive.
- Natalie Blundell