This past Monday, I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, (yes, actually working and not blogging) when one of the public safety officers came into our office yelling, "There's a tornado! There is a tornado headed our way! Everyone to the basement!" Apparently, every office/academic building on campus is subject to mandatory emergency/disaster training and Monday just so happened to be our scheduled time slot. So, I saved the report I was working on and schlepped down the narrow stairwell with my coworkers into the moldy old Miller basement (aka the old swimming pool from yesteryear).
Five minutes later I trudged back up the steps and sat back at my desk only to have the same officer come in yelling, "There's an intruder on campus! The building is on lockdown! Proceed to your emergency safety area!" Supposedly our emergency area is the windowless hallway in the middle of the building, but I prefer my own emergency safety area: under my desk with pepper spray and cell phone in hand. To each his own.
I made it back to my desk again hoping that I could finish the report before 4:30pm so I could go home, but nay nay. Two minutes later, the fire alarm was blaring. Proper protocol is to proceed to the nearest exit, closing and locking all doors on the way out; however, my choice of exit would be the out the window next to my desk. Again, to each his own.
Once we were all outside and given the all clear, we then had to proceed across campus for mandatory fire extinguisher training. We waited while 8 volunteer firefighters set up a gas grill and two fire extinguishers -- I'll let you do the math. Meanwhile, Captain B. Safe (who had to be at least 60 years old and 50 pounds overweight) gave us a lecture on fire safety:
Captain B. Safe: "Now, a fire will double in size every minute. [pauses for dramatic effect] That means, that a trash can sized fire will grow to the size of....uh.....two trash cans in 60 seconds. So in one minute, a single trash can sized fire will become a two trash can sized fire. [pauses for dramatic effect] Now this extinguisher uses a gas called carbon monoxide. That's the stuff we breathe out. This gas is extremely cold, so much that it will cause frostbite if you touch it. That's why the handle is insulated -- so that you won't burn yourself."
Me: "So the handle is insulated so that I won't burn myself from the frostbite?" (I just had to.)
Captain B. Safe: "That's right. We try to take every precaution to make sure that you remain safe. And never, ever, turn your back on the fire. Remember, a fire grows to double its size in 60 seconds. That means that a trash can sized fire...."
And so on. I stood there laughing silently to myself, already composing parts of this blog post in my head. When Captain B. Safe finished his speech, he had us line up into two rows so we could practice putting out a fire. Sergeant Smokey (who was probably in his mid-twenties and as macho as volunteer Bourbonnais firefighters come) took over and gave us the how-to:
Sergeant Smokey: "Now, y'all are just going to use the powder extinguishers. We don't want to take the risk of y'all burning yourself with the carbon monoxide [silent laughter]. Although, the carbon monoxide kind is great if you want to chill a drink on a hot summer day. It can ice down a beer in just seconds! When it's hot and you're thirsty and your beer is warm....just a few sprays and you've got yourself an ice cold brew."
Me: [standing next to David Pickering] "Know your audience, man."
And so, I successfully extinguished the gas grill fire and finally made it back to my desk with time to spare. I salute you, Captain B. Safe and Sergeant Smokey - Olivet is a safer place because of you.