"My point? We need to do a MUCH better job in alerting the citizens in case of emergency. What we have now is not sufficient - not nearly enough."
Ben Willis had just come back from an early lunch at the local fast food Thai restaurant. It was two blocks from the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago, and if you went early enough, you had only a very small line to put up with. But - if you wait too long - you were screwed. Then it is a very quick trip, to a not a very quick McDonald's.
Since his company (United Holding, parent of United Airline) had moved to downtown Chicago, and yes the iconic Sears Tower, his job satisfaction had gone up about 10 percent or so. As a financial analyst, Ben always thought in numbers and percentages - that is what he did for a living. In his days at Wharton, he seriously thought about becoming an Actuarial. But after a few quarters, he found out that was way, way too much stats. Switching over to finance, was the right thing for his skill set - and temperament.
As Ben was sitting back in his chair planning out the rest of the day, his eyes gazed out of one of the massive windows the Sears Tower. Trying to think of work, his "Id" came into play. Yes, he was thinking golf. Just as he started to win the war with what he should do,compared with what he wanted to do, the tornado sirens went off. After all, it was the first Wednesday of the month.
At one time, when the tornado sirens went off (formerly known as the civil defense sirens), the old (and getting older) Baby Boomers, would have a fit. These days, unless you live in tornado alley, the first Wednesday of every month at 1:00 becomes siren time. Get used to it folks - happens every month.
Only this time it was not 1 pm. It was 12:35, shortly after lunch. And after they started, they would not shut off. They kept going on over and over and over again. Just as Ben was getting aggravated and started thinking, "Shut those damn things off! It is bad enough they went off too early, but then you forgot how to shut them off!"
Just then, the door to his floor on the tower burst open and three security guards ran in. "Folks, this is not a drill! We need to get you out of here, and down to the sub-basement, pronto - if not sooner. Someone, we don't know who as yet, launched missiles in our direction. And Chicago is one of the tar..."
The security guard never finished her sentence. As Ben was listening in total disbelief, the room suddenly turned bright white, and then - nothing. In a blink, the huge part of the center of the city of Chicago was all but gone.
Why do I bring this up? You need to ask your civil defense folks how much notice we would have in the event of a major accident. Like a terror event at our closest nuke facility. How about a stay meteor which escaped our detection? And the worst fear ever - what about a rogue missile launch? What are our warnings?
Good question. Time to ask our county boards or county sheriff the same question. Back when the Baby Boomers were in school, there were three different alarms. One for fire, another for storm, and yet another for attack. The response to all three were quite different. Today for the citizens, we only have the tornado alert. When it goes off, no matter what time of the alarms go off, most folks are looking at the sky, or their internet radar. Seeing nothing, most will go back to what they were doing, just waiting for the "false alarm" to be shut off.
My point? We need to do a MUCH better job in alerting citizens in event of an emergency other than severe weather. What we have now is not sufficient - not nearly enough. Think about that before your next county meeting. We got rid of all our Cold War alerts maybe much, much too soon. If we did - let's fix it.