Friday, May 10, 2013

My First Lockdown

The alert text said active shooter, lock down initiated. I locked down. I stood in the corner of my office. I heard a pop from outside. Is that a gunshot? Is it related to nearby construction activities? Did they get locked down, too? I am on the third floor. Can I look out the window? Can I peak around the edge? I can hear the door to the stairwell closing. Then a second time. Is someone entering the floor, or leaving? Why aren’t they staying put? Why aren’t they friggin’ locking down?!

In my building I am responsible for clearing the floor for emergency drills, and when it is not a drill. As such I have a radio/walkie on my desk. I use it for drills, and we also use them for ceremonies (for which I am required to volunteer). This morning a voice called out on the radio, saying something like this: “Attention. Attention. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. We will probably be going into lockdown. Please tune to the emergency channel for updates.” The volume was loud enough so several people on my floor could hear, and they were all soon standing at my door.

Probably? He said probably. I took the radio and went down a floor to the building manager and he decided to forgo the probably and just announce on the building intercom to go into lockdown.

Probably? He said probably. This radio message came across at about 8:55. The official lockdown was announced at 9:06. Two building occupants (whom I spoke with) entered the building around 8:45 and in front of the building saw an officer armed with a rifle. The lockdown text said “active shooter” last seen at 8:18. This timing does not work for me. Seems like a belated decision. Turns out the guy didn’t have a gun at all, and was never even close to the location referenced in the lockdown alert. Do we count this as “fog of war?”

Lockdown. What to do? You are supposed to get behind a locked door and make it look like no one is home. I turned off the lights. I locked my computer. Because, you know, if I am locking down then so is my computer.  I silenced my cell phone. I put the headset on the radio so I could monitor the emergency channel.
Where to put my body? Under the desk? Are you kidding me? I don’t want to be trapped under my desk if someone forces their way into my office. I stood in the corner, along the same wall as the door, at the opposite end. Someone forces their way in and they are getting a chair to the head, Jerry Springer style. Can’t do that from under the damn desk.

So. I was in lock down. I ended up exchanging texts with my sister to finalize lunch plans. I was IM’ing data specifications with a colleague who was working from home. I exchanged emails with my boss and co-worker regarding the co-worker’s request for time off. I stood in the corner some more and decided I was too restricted in case someone forced their way in. I rearranged the chairs and some boxes. I waited.

No real threat, but a real lockdown. Better than a drill. Am I ready for next time?

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