Goodbye Rhode Island

Well I returned to St. Louis late yesterday night following five days of teaching Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager courses in Rhode Island.  As I mentioned earlier in the week, until now, I hadn’t been to Rhode Island before.  I can’t say that any more.  While we didn’t get out much to sight see, when we did venture out, the surrounding areas were very nice.

Our classes went very well.  All student expectations were met, everyone learned, and final Student Evaluations were quite positive.    We had a great group of participants in both classes.  A lot of diversity helped keep class discussions interesting for all.  One of our students gave us a going-away gift of a bottle of Autocrat Coffee syrup that when added to milk makes a local fave called “Coffee Milk”.  I can’t wait to try it.  Unfortunately, we ran out of time and weren’t able to try any “hot wieners” which from the way they were described is a natural-casing wiener and is topped with mustard, a special meat sauce, onion, celery salt and served on a steamed bun.  It sounds great!  One of the Warwick fire guys said when he’s on the truck and they stop by they say “give me six hot wieners and put sneakers on them cause they’re going with me”.

Station Nightclub Fire Memorial

On a somber note, while we were in Warwick this past week, we were reminded about the very tragic Station Nightclub Fire that took place February 20, 2003.  It was the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in American history, killing 100 people.

You may remember that the fire was caused by pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager of the evening’s headlining band, Great White, which ignited flammable sound insulation foam in the walls and ceilings surrounding the stage.  The fast-moving fire engulfed the club in 5½ minutes. Some 230 people were injured and another 132 escaped uninjured.

Although there were four possible exits, once the fire started most people naturally headed for the front door through which they had entered.  The ensuing stampede led to a crush in the narrow hallway leading to that exit, quickly blocking the exit completely and resulting in numerous deaths and injuries among the patrons and staff.  Of the 462 in attendance, 100 lost their lives, and about half were injured, either from burns, smoke inhalation, or trampling.

My co-instructor “Brenda” and I took a drive out to the memorial site.  When we arrived, we turned off Cowesett Avenue which is a two-lane road and were deeply impressed at what we saw.  The location of where the nightclub stood sits at the intersection of Cowesett Avenue and Kulas Street.  The asphalt parking lot is small.  At the very front of the parking lot adjacent to Cowesett Avenue is what’s left of the old Station nightclub sign.  It’s nothing more than a sign frame in a timber-framed planter box.  Walking a short distance across the parking lot, you are immediately struck by the number of personalized memorials that have been erected and maintained on the site where the nightclub stood.  And then, when you start thinking about the number of people who were there that night and consider how small the property where the building was is, it’s simply amazing.  I’ve since gone back and looked at the videos posted on You Tube of that awful night.  There just aren’t any words that describe what that must have been like.

I’ve attached some pictures below that include some we took of the memorial site.

Hopefully, we learn from past tragedies like the Station Nightclub fire.  I continue to hope that more people will be proactive and take the time to become better prepared for emergencies or disasters that may affect them.

My Swan Song

As I told the class, this was my last teaching assignment for some time.  Now, I need to focus on business continuity in my new position.  I look forward to the new things I’ll learn as well as the opportunities to use my knowledge and skills to help the company grow and succeed.  Who knows, perhaps next year I’ll be able to consider teaching a couple of classes again.  So, I hope you’ll continue to read my blogs.  There’s a lot going on in business continuity, emergency management, and leadership that we can talk about.  If there’s something specific you would like me to address, please comment on this blog and share your ideas with me.

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 Getting Prepared In a Year

Well we took a little detour to Rhode Island during our Getting Prepared trip, so let me try to get us heading back in the right direction.  Here’s what you can do now to add to your preparedness kit:

From your local Grocery store, pick up the following items:

  • a can of fruit
  • a can of meat
  • a can of vegetables
  • one package of paper plates
  • one package of plastic eating utensils
  • one package of paper cups
  • adult vitamins

Things to Do:

Make a plan to check on a neighbor who may need help in an emergency.

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One Response to Goodbye Rhode Island

  1. Sue Lamb says:

    The Station Nightclub memorial pictures are humbling and a bit haunting when I look at them from the perspective of an emergency manager. We must continue to be diligent and work with our community partners/stakeholders to educate them and enforce codes and educate the public.
    All the best as your pursue your next corporate venture. Stay in touch.

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