Friday, February 21, 2014

Duck, Cover, Bend Over and Kiss Your Ass Goodbye

Today my school had two emergency drills to make up for the ones we'd either sort of forgotten to have or the ones we were supposed to have during Virginia Snowpocalypse '14 (that would be the successive storms of 3" and 5", respectively, and yes, those are ", not ').  One was a fire drill, which is basic enough; everyone just gets the hell out of the building.  This is a fairly small building as high schools go and it's all brick and cinder block, so I'm not too worried about fire.

I am not too worried about most major potential catastrophes because I figure that the chances of them actually happening to me are fairly minimal--except, of course, my whole airplane thing, but I solve that by simply not getting on them.  If I spent every day worried about the school burning or the apartment burning or catching NorovirusAIDSEbola, I'd be so jittery and distracted that I'd walk into traffic. Hopefully if that ever happens I will walk in front of a nice old lady from Westhampton who will actually stop and not in front of any of the Broad street buses, which do not stop even if you want to get on them.  A Broad street car once famously didn't get rerouted for the Tobacco Festival Parade and hit Roy Rogers and Trigger smack in the ass.

The other drill did worry me a little, though.  This one was a lockdown drill.  Lockdown drills came into being after the Columbine massacre and are the appropriate emergency response to a person with firepower. And they're really kind of scary.  You're supposed to herd your students into the part of the room that's least likely to catch direct fire.  You lock the doors and windows, pull the blinds, and cover up the window on the door.  You trust no one and wait until someone unlocks the door.

The whole process reminds me--unfortunately so--of the laughable "Duck and Cover!" film.  You know, the one where the family protects themselves from an A-bomb blast by getting under their picnic blanket. We are assuming in the first place that the main office has somehow figured out there's an intruder, a bad one, in the building and has alerted us before the guy goes berserk. The way most classrooms are set up, there are one or two doors on one side and windows directly opposite.  This means that there's no place that couldn't be directly in the line of fire from one direction or the other.  Also, most classroom doors,even the sturdier ones, have windows that could pretty easily be shot out.  And when the window is shot out...well, whoever's inside is screwed.

Lockdown drills, now that I think about it, are exactly like the "Duck and Cover" film in one respect: they're mostly worthless.  In the event of an actual emergency--to borrow a phrase from the Emergency Broadcast System--I sincerely doubt that the procedure could be enacted in time, that anyone would even remember it, or that it would be effective.  But we can't just go admitting these things and so schools nationwide have official procedures for responding to such a horrific attack.

The submarines of the second World War have one multiple use escape hatch.  You can evacuate about five men at a time and the process for each five takes about fifteen minutes.  There are somewhere between seventy and ninety men on the boat.  The Lusitania--a much larger vessel than any sub--took a torpedo hit and sank in seventeen minutes.  You do the math.  So why do the submarines even have the escape hatch?  So the sailors' moms will sleep well at night.

Why do we have lockdown drills in schools? So all of us will sleep well at night.

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