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Beyond the expected

Woden Plaza Evacuated

By DarkLadyWolfMother - 27 August 2008 18

At about 10am I received a message from my Housemate that she’d been evacuated from her place of work in the Woden Plaza (some call it Westfield Woden).  She believed that the whole Plaza was being evacuated, as there were customers streaming from the place and then milling aimlessly.  At the time she had no information as to why this had happened.

Later she was told that it was all merely a test and there was no real threat.

Seems as good a reason as any to screw around customers and businesses.

What’s Your opinion?

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18 Responses to
Woden Plaza Evacuated
DarkLadyWolfMother 7:59 am 28 Aug 08

My Housemate might disagree with you 54-11. She was up the Corinna end of the Plaza, if that helps. Admittedly this is a small sample (those around her, not the entire area).

With all of this I’m aware that staff need to be trained, but I question using unwitting customers during that training. However, given that my own experience is limited to office buildings (where they ran so many ‘drills’ that people gave up doing anything sensible) and everyone was ‘staff’, then perhaps I should bow to those who know more.

After I finish this little rant, of course 😉

Davo111 1:05 am 28 Aug 08

DarkLadyWolfMother said :

Not making it obvious it was an ‘exercise’ or ‘test’ can put unnecessary stress on people. From what I’ve been told, older people and mothers with babies were rushing out, many truly worried about what was happening, and what the danger was. Many were guessing fire. Perhaps this shows a breakdown of processes they need to address.

If ‘those’ people get stressed with an alarm going off, no fire and no smoke in their immediate area – then they probably shouldn’t be leaving their house.

DarkLadyWolfMother said :

Is disrupting the whole Plaza really worth it?

Staff need to be trained in how to evacuate safely during a fire, its OH&S requirement for most places. When it comes down to it, most people like the idea of having a white helmet in their office that says ‘warden’, but if they don’t know what to do with it, then there’s not much point.

54-11 8:16 pm 27 Aug 08

DLWM, there was the early “whoop, whoop, whoop” well before the evacuation started, and plenty of Westfield staff on hand, so there was no need for anyone to be unduly concerned. I didn’t see anyone hurrying, and certainly there was no sense of haste, although every drill needs to have some urgency to make sure that the place is cleared within a reasonable time.

The only urgency I saw was at the end of the drill, when people were keen to get back inside – some to get back to their stores, some to get out of the cold, and no doubt some to lighten their wallets as quickly as possible.

Some stores certainly knew about the drill, although I suspect not everyone did. It took about 15 minutes from whoa to go, at 10.00am on a Tuesday morning, so I wouldn’t have thought it was anywhere near as disruptive as many other times.

DarkLadyWolfMother 7:18 pm 27 Aug 08

Drills are only a good idea for those who have the responsibility of making sure the place is cleared. For customers, they’re useless, and disruptive. From that, I suggest, it can also lead to lost business.

Not making it obvious it was an ‘exercise’ or ‘test’ can put unnecessary stress on people. From what I’ve been told, older people and mothers with babies were rushing out, many truly worried about what was happening, and what the danger was. Many were guessing fire. Perhaps this shows a breakdown of processes they need to address.

Restaurant and cafe owners were also made to turn off their equipment before leaving, which meant that they’d have to restart things when they returned – possibly more delays for customers.

Is disrupting the whole Plaza really worth it? I’m genuinely curious. Are all those who need to know now aware of their duties, and what problems there may be in the event of a real emergency? Has this been useful, or a tick in a box? Does anyone have any clues?

cranky 5:37 pm 27 Aug 08

I happened to be in the Plaza when they pulled the drill. Is it usual for (primarily) ladies fashion stores to open late, or were they aware of the drill and decided to have a sleep in? A number, including Country Road, were closed at 9.45am.

Overheard 5:14 pm 27 Aug 08

jakez said :

Evacuations are a pain in the arse…

Metamucil. Or unprocessed bran on your Weeties.

Davo111 5:06 pm 27 Aug 08

It’s good practice to run them when shop owners are around – hence why they do it nice and early when [hardly] anyone is around.

jakez 5:03 pm 27 Aug 08

Evacuations are a pain in the arse even when they aren’t drills. (try evacuating Hoyts Woden on Boxing Day which was also opening day for Lord of the Rings: Two Towers which meant that every cinema was completely full) Drills are annoying however they are clearly a good idea. Even if they weren’t the law they’d still be a good idea and I think insurance companies would mandate them anyway (or at least jack up premiums to a large degree).

Jonathon Reynolds said :

Next time take the lift…

They should be deactivated.

Jonathon Reynolds 3:01 pm 27 Aug 08

Next time take the lift…

Gungahlin Al 2:41 pm 27 Aug 08


fnaah 2:22 pm 27 Aug 08

Might help with spot fires.

Gungahlin Al 1:52 pm 27 Aug 08

Gotta love the people who grab a mug of coffee to take with them down the fire stairs…

Whatsup 1:39 pm 27 Aug 08

You can do practice evacuations with the shopping center empty any time and hope that any emergency will only occur after hours.

As much of a pain in the Ar$e that it may have been, they will need to check that it can be done during shopping hours with customers in place to make sure their safety processes work. I’ve been involved in Emergency evacuation evaluations interstate in both high rise office buildings and also in a major hospital and can tell you its worth it to test the system before lives are depending on it. That’s as long as its taken seriously and the problems identified are addressed, otherwise it is just a waste of time.

sepi 1:38 pm 27 Aug 08

I think it is a legal requirement to have a real fire drill once a year in public buildings.

54-11 1:22 pm 27 Aug 08

It was just an exercise – I was there about 9.45 just before it started, and one of the retailers told me to grab a coffee and come back in 15-20 minutes when the exercise was finished.

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