Monday, July 7, 2014

How NOT to evacuate a courthouse

So Roybal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles was evacuated a few months ago.  I was on the 13th floor, which means I had to walk down 12 flights of stairs, in a stairwell [one of three, so I'm told] that apparently hadn't seen use since the building was erected.  Concrete dust coated the walls and steps, which was to be expected, but also the handrails.  My suit pants and jacket [of course I wore black that day], and my hands, and my nostrils, were caked in concrete dust by the time I was able to exit the building.  I smelled that stairwell for days afterward.

I walked down the stairs with another attorney and two court employees.  They decided to talk about "what it must have been like in the stairwells in NYC on 9/11".


Around the eighth or ninth floor, my eyes experienced what must have been similar to a white-out condition.  The walls, steps, landings, handrails, people... basically EVERYTHING in that stairwell was exactly the same color.  I had no depth perception.  And walking downhill in circles, with everything the same shade of off-white, including the edge of each step, is not conducive to speedy travel.

And oddly, this stairwell lets you out on the second floor.  Now if this had been a real emergency, which I knew it wasn't because the fire alarm blasted our eardrums at precisely ten o'clock, I would have been entirely lost on the second floor if there hadn't been court employees with me to tell me where to go next.

We traveled across the second floor to an exit door, which let us outside to a balcony-like area and absolutely did not look like an exit.  Then we traversed the balcony, along the side of the building, to an outside stairway that led to the ground floor.

I definitely believe there should be signs posted along this route, letting people know exactly how to exit.

And I learned that my legs are REALLY out of shape.  The next morning when my alarm woke me up, I sat up, swung my legs over the side of the bed, and promptly collapsed on the floor when my legs wouldn't hold me up.  I walked in pain for nearly a week.



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