Code Emergency: Shelter-In-Place

8 01 2007

Today, what was an innocent math game turned into a shelter-in-place.

In order to tell you exactly what happened, you need to understand that today the Nalco Company plant which does water treatment and chemical technologies, accidentally released a combination of water vapor and a chemical – ethylenediamine. 17 employees were injured or had minor cuts. (source: Nalco).

The release was because a pressure release valve on the truck may have dislodged, causing the release into the atmosphere. The chemical involved could hurt skin, arms, and eyes, and those who were exposed to it might have vomiting and feel nausea.When we were playing a math game, all of a sudden, a announcement came from the speakers. It said, “Students and teachers, we have just received notice that we are under a shelter-in-place…”

When I heard the word shelter, I thought, “This is it. This is what we have been practicing for. Crouching down, and shelter drills. This is what it’s all for. Today.” In fact, I was even ridiculous enough to think about who would take care of my blog when I died.

I was just sulking when I noticed nobody was also sad and crying for their mommy. And… what was that the teacher was saying? Surely it wasn’t that. She was saying the three words “no… big… deal…”

I was crazed and confused, but just when I was about to ask the teacher what was going on, she said, “I am the team leader, so I’ve got to tell the other teachers that everything is normal.”

Normal? I was about to ask, had she not walked straight out of the door.

I questioned my classmates and they emphasized “shelter-in-place”. In a moment, I understood. We were supposed to stay put and not move anywhere.

When she came back, I told her I wanted to go to the restroom. By the look on her face, she was probably thinking about whether she should say “one out of five restroom chances used” or not. Thankfully, she said yes.

Outside the classroom, there was few people. The only persons I saw were walking in slow motion and with their cheeks light-purple, they were probably not breathing very hard.

Inside the restroom, there was a kid who was carefully pushing down the water button. He pushed it down, and then without sudden moves, washed his hands. I said, “It’s not that bad.” It did not get the results I wanted. Instead, he let go of the handle and the water stopped very suddenly.

He glared at me, and finally said, “You waste oxygen.”

Back in the classroom, a classmate came in, and then breathed deeply. He looked like he had not breathed at all in the hallway. But because I already knew it was not emergency, I thought they were taking it much too seriously.

So today there was a false emergency. It seems there are so many things in my life.

And I need to get ready for them.

Oh, gosh. I’ve got to write my will now.

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