Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Outstanding Person and Ideas

I had the good fortune to attend a dinner last night hosted by Senior Citizens Services of Greater Tarrant County. One of the many things Senior Citizens Services does is administer many of our local senior centers. One thing I learned at the dinner last night was that they served 260,000 congregate meals to older adults in Tarrant County last year.

The purpose of last night's dinner was to present the "Outstanding Citizen for Seniors" award. This year's honoree was Bob Schieffer, the CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent. For those of you who don't know, he is a fellow Texan, attended college here in Fort Worth at TCU, and worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Mr. Schieffer has obviously attended many of these events, because he kept his remarks very short, but he made several important points that I wanted to share.

He talked about how things have changed since 9/11: that eight years ago, there was truly a feeling of bipartisanship in the nation's capital, and that as Americans we all came together in a time of need.

He talked about how in a 40 year career in Washington, DC he has never seen the level of acrimony as high as it is now. He very eloquently expressed my own feelings that guns at public rallies are inappropriate (at best); that signs calling our President a Nazi or worse are absolutely uncalled for; and that what we need is civil debate. Not name calling, not shouting each other down, not elected officials calling other elected officials liars.

Last night I was proud to be a Texan, and proud to be an American.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fire! (Not)

I had an exciting experience yesterday. I was in Chicago for a conference, staying in a nice hotel. I woke up a few minutes before 6:00 am to use the restroom. Before I got to the bathroom, some pretty loud beeping started, and I thought to myself, "Wow, that person has a really loud alarm in their room". Almost immediately I heard voices, which I thought was said person's really loud radio. After a couple of seconds when it didn't go off (because I figured if I could hear it, said person surely would and would have turned it off), I listened more closely, to hear this: "This is a fire emergency, please evacuate".

Not the way I wanted to start my day.

I poked my hea
d out the door, as did a few others; we all looked at each other and said "Guess we need to go".

I threw on some clothes, grabbed my purse, my cell phone, and my laptop and headed down the stairs.

We all ended up staying outside for about 25 minutes.

The experience has made me think about a few things.

First, I'm glad I was only on the 3rd floor. I hate to think how the evacuation would have been if my mother, with her 2 bad knees had been traveling with me, and
especially if we had been on the 12th floor. From now on, when traveling with Mom, I'm going to request the lowest floor possible. We never think this is going to happen, and despite all my years of emergency training in the hospital, I just never thought it would happen.

But I'm glad for all my years working in hospitals, because I knew what to do in a "fire emergency". I knew not to go to the elevator. While I did take a moment to change, it was only because my clothes for the day were already laid out. I only grabbed the laptop because it was stowed in it's bag and I could easily carry it, and I did these things because I had assessed the situation and did not smell any smoke on my floor.

Now, I learned today that there really wasn't a fire emergency. The person who sounded the alarm needed an ambulance, and thought that pulling the fire alarm would result in a quicker response. It may have, but I'm glad I'm not the one responsible for forcing a few hundred people to needlessly evacuate a hotel at 6:00 am.

I hope that everyone will take a few moments and think about their own disaster plans when traveling. It only takes a few minutes to review the fire evacuation maps posted in every hotel room. And if you ever wondered if a fire alarm would be taken seriously, I can tell you that it is in Chicago!