Evacuation Training Teaches People To Get Out Of High Rises In Dangerous Situation

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UPDATED: Monday April 29, 2013 6:53 PM

Living or working high in the sky gives you a great view, but fire investigators say it can also be a high risk address if you’re not prepared.

Building managers, security officers and others gathered inside Columbus State University on Monday to learn how to execute a high-rise evacuation plan.

It’s the only high-rise/high hazard classes in the state.

Students practice using table top demonstrations to devise escape routes.

It’s not easy trying to get thousands of people out of high-rise building during an emergency, according to Jessica Strawn. She managers the Leveque tower a 47-story high rise downtown.

“Panic sets in so fast that even if you have a plan, it doesn't mean the plan is going to work,” said Strawn.

That’s where this class helps - by challenging office workers to devise escape routes and learn how to reduce panicked workers by getting them out of the building safely.

“People need to take these evacuation plans seriously,” said Lt. Greg Howard, of the Columbus Division of Fire.

The people most at risk during a high rise fire are those living or working on the 7th floor or higher, according to the fire department.

The reason is the fire departments’ ladders don’t reach above that height, and the division doesn’t have any roof top rescue equipment.

Nationwide Insurance is one of many high-rise office buildings that conduct annual evacuations.

The company said it takes three months to prepare an evacuation that involves 7,000 employees.

“We were one of the first buildings in Columbus to pull full building evacuations,” said Jay Beighly Associate Vice President of Corporate Security. “If the worst should occur they're not surprised, they remain calm they know what to do.”

Experts said staying calm can often mean the difference between getting trapped or getting out alive during a high rise emergency.

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