This is going to be a bit off the beaten track today. I’m organizing my thoughts for when I meet with my boss’s boss’s boss in about 45 minutes, to explain why our fire response plan is…not optimal. It seems like he already knows there’s a kink or two in the system, because he’s already taking action on it, and he seems bright enough, and he doesn’t lack initiative (the day after Thanksgiving our cook failed to show up and he spent the morning making french toast for everyone).
Anyway, I want to keep our little meeting as brief and concise as possible. Five minutes in and out, if I can manage. The personal experiment is to organize my thoughts hitherwise, so as to elucidate the key points I want to get across without hesitation, and then excuse myself so I can actually get something constructive done. The post meant for yesterday is still sitting in the drafts folder, after all.
Technically, it’s not a nursing home- it’s a senior living community (more accurately, “assisted living”). That means many of the residents are not technically infirm or out of their minds, but many of them need help with occasional tasks, and many have slight memory problems. These memory problems wouldn’t seem “slight” to ordinary folks- they are quite troublesome- but they are slight compared to the debilitating memory problems that arise in the later stages of dementia. So they are relatively slight. In a fire, there is also the problem that they simply cannot be evacuated.
This gives rise to our fire safety plan. When the fire alarm goes off, most places try to evacuate the building in an organized fashion. We can’t do that, because of the aforementioned mobility and memory issues. If our fire alarm goes off, our plan is to close all the doors, as many as possible, to keep the fire from spreading rapidly. Then the fire department- which is very nearby, luckily- will fight the fire “in place”. This means everyone is still in their rooms with the doors closed while the fire is being fought, and only the firefighters decide when to open doors and pull people out (hopefully away from the source of the fire, the whole thing is very utilitarian when you think too hard about it). It’s an extremely affluent suburb (the Jews in Minneapolis were displaced here earlier in the century), so the fire department seems to be top-notch because there are no “equal representation” lawsuits or whatever the fuck.
But there’s a problem. Recently, a confused resident pulled the fire alarm. And…you can probably guess what happened. No one knew the procedure, and fewer cared. Every door in the building was open within seconds and a bunch of anxious seniors tried to shamble to the stairs, the location of which few could remember, and none could successfully ambulate. Because many of our employees can’t read English fluently, and none of them who can are also inclined to read the emergency response manual in their free time (except yours truly, of course), none of them know the proper procedure either. It doesn’t matter either; general consensus is that $11/hr is not a lot of money. My immediate superior has told me straight-up that she’s planning to be the first person out the door.
So I guess the main thing is that the plan is a bit optimistic. I’m not optimistic, myself, about my chances of changing it, but here goes anyway. See y’all tomorrow.