Date: Mon, 10 Aug 2009 15:40:34 -0400
Reply-To: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: 2 Re: [DCHAS-L] Final thoughts on UCLA fatal accident.

From: 	bridget.fitzpatrick**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: 	Re: [DCHAS-L] Final thoughts on UCLA fatal accident.
Date: 	August 10, 2009 2:53:12 PM EDT
 >there should be =91fire drills=92 in which the PI, a post-doc or a  
senior grad student has each person in the lab respond to various  

I agree completely.  I think that one of the best defenses is to  
ingrain a muscle memory in someone of how to respond.  So when the  
crisis happens, they are 10 steps into responding correctly, before  
they start to think.

From: 	info**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: 	Re: [DCHAS-L] Final thoughts on UCLA fatal accident.
Date: 	August 10, 2009 3:06:31 PM EDT

Yes, those who have run through their minds what to do when faced with  

an emergency situation do fare better - the prime example being those  

who survive an airline crash and have figured out beforehand how they  

would make their escape in the event of catastrophe.

Based on personal experiences, I can say that about half the time in a  

lab incident, half of the population will respond correctly and  
quickly.  And the other half  will panic or *freeze*, regardless of  
how much training they have had or the imprimatur of your company or  
school's name.

Some quick examples of the latter:

- My own graduate student who, after setting the sink on fire after  
igniting a "dead" still pot, stood there dumbfounded, not knowing what  

to do even though there was a fire extinguisher just 3 feet behind  
him.  I drilled, and I mean DRILLED, every one of my students about  
safety in the lab and how to respond in an emergency, including all my  

goriest stories, and ffffft, to no effect.

- An MIT grad student who, after catching stuff in his hood on fire,  
decided to respond by moving the flame-spouting hexane wash bottle to  

the floor, where it burned itself up (or would have rather harmlessly  

- big open lab, that one), but then decided to try and extinguish it  
with his *lab coat*, which caught fire.   When I came upon the scene  
he was watching it all burn (hood was on fire as well).  Just standing  


- Another MIT grad student who ran in looking to call 911 because of a  

2" high fire on an isolated electrical cord...I went to his lab and  
extinguished with a 1 second puff of carbon dioxide.

- An MIT engineering student who set the sink on fire with Na/K alloy  

residue.  He stood there watching it burn.  His lab mate put it out,  
and when she came to my lab to use the phone to call 911 about the  
extinguished fire, their waste basket went up because the first guy  
had thrown his waste paper towels with toluene and Na/K  in the trash.

To recap, emergency training is great and should be done.  But don't  
bank on the training necessarily doing any good, either.   Emergency  
response is your last line of defense after all the other usual ones  
(substitution, engineering controls, PPE etc. etc.).

Rob Toreki

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