Monday, March 29, 2010

Common Sense versus the Uncommon Situation

When I was starting my career at SRI, I was roped into being on the Emergency Action Team. I had a white helmet with “EAT” on it.

During EAT training, I learned of the hierarchy. I and a few others were at the bottom. In an emergency we were supposed to get people to a designated place. There we would meet the next person up the hierarchy. That person would not only have an EAT helmet but also a walkie talkie. From the walkie talkie would come instructions from the next level up the hierarchy.

I was surprised to learn the designated place was inside the building. I asked our building’s EAT chieftain what I should do if, given a blaring alarm, people did the common-sense thing of heading for the exits. To which he replied: “Common sense is a bad thing in an uncommon situation. Your job is to get them away from the exit and to the designated place.”

“Is there really any harm in people just going outside?”

“If there’s a sniper on the roof, then yeah, there might be some harm.”

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