I used to view fire drills and evacuation from the office with equanimity. At one point, while I was working at another bank, i was even the resident fire marshal and first aider (want to get CPR’ed by me? hehehe, didn't think so), so I was the person who would chivvy people along and worry about clean corridors and stuff.
And after 9/11, nobody minded checking out and doing fire drills. Anyway, it was a great time to go have a beer. Its actually good to be a fire marshal, everybody is your friend (as they want to know when the drill will happen and they would go off in the elevators to the pub, have couple of pints and then return).
Here at the current bank, I didn't get a chance to hook into the network yet and one of my team members who was a fire marshal resigned. So, I was startled when I heard the fire alarm at 11AM. Previously, the unwritten rule was that you dont have a fire alarm in the morning because of business meetings. And you can have a beer post lunch :)
I swore under my breath but then took off manfully. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. It was ok for the first 10-15 flights but then it started to get progressively more and more difficult. Many people were smart enough to duck out at the 34th, 25th or the 15th transfer floors but damnfool BD had to keep on going down just to gain the experience. At near the bottom of the building I looked up and saw the sheer number of flights that I had walked down, you can still see people coming down. The worst was the women who were wearing heels, that must have hurt badly, you could hear the click clack of the heels. Many of them took them off. I couldnt because of knees, but they were trembling by the time I came down. Not good.
And suffered for the past 2 days for it. But thinking more about it, if a fire does break out badly, given my time of about 10 minutes to get down, I could barely make out. Some lessons, try to be first out, dont delay, you need to have a clear run. Second, a rubber soled shoe is much better than a leather soled shoe if you have to ever walk down so many flights of stairs, much better on your feet and knees. Keep a spare under your desk if necessary.
Third, just keep on bloody going, no point in taking a breather, you will clog up the stairwells and it doesnt help. Fourth, but trying to head for a lift is stupid frankly, that’s just being lazy, you need to know how to do it at least once. Fifth, while politeness has its place, safety first. If you have a slow moving person in front of you who is slowing down the entire backlog of people, ask them to politely move to the left or right and then move on quickly.
But it was quite interesting and sad at the same time, i was remembering all my friends from Cantor and SunGard in NY who died at the WTC. Sighs, not good.