City of Leduc– When the fire alarm rings loud and shrill, and sharp blue lights flash throughout the huge facility, you don’t ask questions. If you were in the pool, you might not even take the time to get dressed. You grab the kids, wrap them in a towel and leave the Aquatic Centre, along with all the other families and individuals, most of them still dripping wet and bemused: if you were on the ice in the midst of a hockey game, you might just barely have the time to chuck your skates to trade them for a pair of runners- or not, and leave that area for the relative safety of a muster point within the building. If you were at a cocktail function, without saying a word to your server, you might just walk quickly to the nearest staircase to join hundreds of other revelers, thinking safety is close by, no matter how worried and mystified you might be…
On Thursday March 14, at 7:45 pm, at the Leduc Recreation Centre, this was not a drill, but a real life evacuation that took place. While the facility was bursting with activity, from hockey games in progress to the change rooms filled with players about to take their turn on the ice, to the Aquatic Centre full to the brim with families cavorting in the pool and others waiting for the Aquasize session to begin, Hat Tricks humming with the excitement of a welcome function for the Mixed Doubles Curling National Championship, the Boys & Girls Club celebrating the career and retirement of its director John Norton with a large group of friends and VIPs, 1,500 people were evacuated in less than twenty minutes.
Some might wonder why most of these people did not converge to the outside. While LRC staff took charge, calmly directing people to the West and East exits, there is an LRC evacuation procedure that indicates that in extreme weather, as that night was cold and snowy, until the cause of the alarms is identified, the muster points are actually in the hallways, immediately next to the two main exits.
Blankets were distributed on both sides for guests wishing to wait it out in the winter elements, while staffers kept an eye on the more reluctant guests who were not immediately willing to leave their occupation… Most of the guests were cooperating, but as anytime in real life emergencies, there are always a few who doubt the seriousness of a situation, and the LRC staff and management dealt with those in an efficient and calm manner.
The Leduc Recreation Centre trains its staff to deal with such emergencies all year long, conducting public fire drills twice a year, and although the cause of this particular evacuation has not been disclosed yet, Roger Smolnicki, general manager of the Leduc Rec Centre, shares that “we are extremely satisfied with our LRC staff’s conduct in this particular situation: to evacuate more than 1,500 guests in less than 20 minutes is an incredible feat, and we are proud that our emergency training has been tested and championed by all our personnel.” Within another 45 minutes, facility users were allowed to resume their activities, as it was deemed safe to do so.
As several guests commented, “we (the guests who were in the building at the time) are grateful for fire alarms and for a staff equipped to deal with such an emergency”, and supporting Mr. Smolnicki’s comment, the LRC is without a doubt, a safe place to be.