Thursday, August 18, 2011

The one where I was more freaked out than I thought I'd be: Emergency Preparedness Class

 Yup: that title was just as long as it needed to be.

Today, all the grad students at UNL had to participate in a mandatory Emergency Preparedness Class and Safety Training. We are being trained to take care of our students in the case of an emergency. I don't know why it hit such a nerve with me, but there were two topics that freaked me out pretty badly. Perhaps it's due to my stress levels and the overwhelming sense of vulnerability that I cannot seem to shake off.

The two topics, what  I was told to do, and why that scared me:

  For whatever reason, I never really felt effected by the threat of shooters before. I don't know why that was, but today, when Doreen was lecturing us about how tackling the shooter could be used as a last resort, it really struck a chord somewhere in me. I felt this immense wave of grief for people who have experienced such a scary event.

I don't know how I would cope with that.

I don't really consider myself a person who is frequently scared of things generally, and I guess I hadn't really ever thought about such a situation in any depth. I never considered how I would react, and the idea that the responsibility of others' safety will rest on me was overwhelming (at best). And to consider the utter helplessness one would feel in such a place, where a person was threatening you with a weapon that could kill you instantly and without any defensive action available to you. I'm generally not afraid of guns (I've shot my fair share), and I know how to be safe around them. This is sort of a different ballgame.

  I have never lived in a place where tornadoes were even a consideration. Really, the mountains and the ocean were always a refuge from the storms of the sky. I find a longing sense of solace in the mountains I used to call my home, and am finding myself feeling totally exposed, even raised, to the sky (in all of its majesty and beautiful power) out on the prairie. This is a great unknown to me in real life; the only encounters I have ever had with tornadoes is basically summed up in this movie:

You should probably watch all of it, because it is amazingterribleamazingterribleamazing.

Anyhoo. The story goes, tornadoes are crazy destructive and really unpredictable. This leads, embarrassingly enough, to an unquenchable fear in me.  Add to that the fact that I now live in the top story of a rather tall duplex. Seriously, it's pretty high up here.

Today we were informed that as teaching assistants, we are responsible for the well-being of our students when we have them in class. This does not bode well for me if there is ever a tornado. Mountains and oceans have failed me! I was told to take shelter in a basement or shelter in the event of a tornado, and I was also told that there would be plenty of warning, and that tornadoes rarely strike in the city.

This is all good and well, but i don't have a shelter where I live (top floor)... and we are currently (like, literally, as I type) in a double tornado watch/severe thunderstorm warning.

I'm going to go sit in the bathtub and listen for water to be sucked out of the toilets.
(why does that happen, science??)


Jasie said...

I sat through the "active shooter" training yesterday and also got really freaked out. That a situation like that could exist, that people have died in that situation, that people have survived that situation, it all overwhelmed me and I sat in the back of the room with tears streaming down my face.

It was really weird.

Marge Bjork said...

it's really mind blowing to realize the kind of fear where your life is in someone else's (or nature's) hands. I think I would cry just like Jasie.

That being said, I reiterate, you will have warnings with tornadoes. Most of them will be small–not like what you've seen on tv/movies; and will not come near the city. I have always imagined that tornadoes don't like to be around people–while there are logical reasons for this: aka tornado areas are rural, the ratio or populace to plains is startling...I have stories I will tell you.