Recent drills and campus emergencies reveal flaws in LRC’s emergency procedures

"Emergency" door being plastered with amateurish "Stop! Do not use door!" signs. (Photographer/Hannah Tavares).

“Emergency” door being plastered with amateurish “Stop! Do not use door!” signs. (Photographer/Hannah Tavares).

During the California shake-out earthquake drill on Oct. 17, and the Oct. 7 water main break at Saddleback College, there was confusion among staff and students as to what proper procedures to follow.

“I had no idea there was a drill,” Eric Inouye, a business major said about the Shake-Out drill.

Inouye was on the third floor of the Learning Resource Center building during the time of the drill. The majority of the faculty was on the second floor, shuffling everyone out. The intercom announcement was broadcast from the speakers on the desk intercoms, but was really hard to hear.

“There is no public announcement system in the LRC building,” said Librarian Ana Maria Cobos. “So, they used the intercom system that is built in the office phones.” Cobos said further that she could hear it, and even if she opened her door it would be really hard for students to hear.

Cobos went on to say that she did not think the drill was going to happen until spring semester.  She also heard that they were not going to announce anything to see what the reaction would be to no alarms.  Then she received an email saying that an announcement would go off on the office phones, and that an alarm would sound.

“I am thankful that this was not a real emergency situation,” Cobos said.

There was no alarm, and the announcement was at such a low volume that by the time she went around to tell students about the drill, the certified staff member mentioned in the email had come up to tell everyone to evacuate the building on the third floor of the LRC building. The alarms did not even go off.

“I was told that in some areas on campus, the phones did not get the [ShakeOut drill] message, and I heard this from the college president Tod [Burnett],” Cobos said.

This is not the only thing that Cobos noticed. During the water main break she had noticed the river of water coming out from the Advanced Technology and Applied Science (ATAS) building when she was parking that Tuesday.

“I get here around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays, and I was driving around to find parking, and I saw this river [of water] coming down from the ATAS building,” Cobos said.

When Cobos went to the library she got an email saying that the water was going to be shut off at 1 p.m., but everything would go on as normal. Then about a half an hour later she received another email stating that the school would be closing, because the water was being shut off.

“Protocols are not being followed, and people just don’t care.” Inouye said.

Another alarming thing that “happens at least once or twice a day” said Cobos, is the emergency exit door going off. She explained that many students go through that door without realizing it is an emergency door, and this “desensitizes” the students to be alarmed when it does go off.

“There was a constant ‘beep beep’ sound. No one seemed interested, so I went to a faculty member. I didn’t like the way the faculty blew me off after they said ‘yes it’s an alarm,’ without explanation, and that’s what I take offense to,” Inouye said about the emergency door that went off when studying up in the library.

Cobos understands the issue of the door, explained that it is a problem, and since it is not a loud alarm like the fire alarm, many students do not even bother getting up since it happens so often. The staff is even used to it, and when they hear it, Cobos explained that the staff just grabs the keys to shut it off.

“People are less interested in emergencies,” Inouye said.

This door is not properly labeled. It is labeled with makeshift posters, and printed out flier signs.