Now that we are set to be underway and with hopes for at least a semblance of normalcy, workers are hopeful that businesses will reopen and the economy will regain its composure.
As a Local 94 Operating Engineer, one of my roles is to act as a Fire, Life, and Safety Director (or FLSD) in a commercial office building on Lexington Avenue. During my training, I learned about the appropriate responses to different emergencies. The decisions are relative to the incident and range from shelter-in-place, to in-building-relocations, and from partial to full building evacuations.
Each response is intended to fit the appropriate need to ensure safety during an emergency. The need for organization is essential; otherwise, the risk of danger and confusion can lead to catastrophe.
In the event of an incident, the FLSD immediately reports to the lobby’s fire command station to make an announcement. The FLSD announces the incident through the building’s speaker system and follows the report with instructions to maintain order.
There are no politics in this.
There is no discussion of political views or talks about whether the governor will be onsite to put out the fire. In the event of an actual emergency, there is only instance, plan, and an appropriate action.
However, in the event of an unorganized evacuation, mayhem occurs, people panic and misinformation can lead to fatalities. Needless to say, performance reflects leadership, which is why proper training is important.
Enter phase one of the City’s reopening. As it is, there are reports of people not following protocol. There are those that believe we are “Out of the woods,” and others that strongly disagree.The truth is people will do as they choose. Not everyone listens, even during fires.
However, in times of crisis, cooler heads must prevail. Arguing during an emergency has already proven to be counterproductive. The protocol for phase one is indeed helpful. Even though people will choose not to honor the protocol, this does not mean no one else can. Put simply, although some people will choose to be careless, this does not take away our right to be careful.
As a FLSD in New York City, I have learned firsthand that in times of crisis, the best strategy is to always remain calm and work together. Let’s hope the rest of the City sees it this way.
Ben Kimmel is a proud member of IUOE Local 94, as well as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate. Ben can be reached at email@example.com.