Evacuation during false fire alarm results in injury


Sidney Rochnik and Max Zonana

Junior Tessa Hunter was evacuating from a fire alarm this morning when she saw a staff member lying on the ground. Rushing to help, she was able to attend to the injured staff member until the EMTs arrived to take over.

Fire alarms went off today at 9:56 a.m. due to a malfunction in the science wing, Assistant Principal Daniella Quiñones said in an email to staff, causing several to turn off and on for 32 minutes. 

The staff member was a teacher’s aide for English teacher Moira Delumpa, who said the aide got “caught in the crowd” while evacuating.

Delumpa took a different route to her class’s evacuation spot and didn’t see it happen, but said the aide tripped where the crowd entered a bottleneck due to obstruction from construction between the 200 wing and the science wing.

Hunter, who is lifeguard certified, was able to help as soon as she saw what had happened.

“I saw her lying on the ground, on her side. [I] know what happens when someone falls and hits their head, [so] I go over to do a primary assessment,” Hunter said, “Basically I took her pulse, asked her for her name, told her what I’m doing.”

Hunter said she knew that the staff member fell on her temple side, and that she had a fractured wrist. 

“I just did my best to make sure [she] was comfortable. She was dizzy at the beginning [and] slurring her words,” Hunter said. 

Hunter also proceeded to check that the aide could feel sensations in her fractured wrist, which she could.

“The situation was very intense [for me,]” Hunter said, “I felt horrible, but I did my best to keep my cool because if I were to be scared, that would make her scared.”

An ambulance was called by someone witnessing the scene and arrived to take the staff member in for a check-up and treatment. Delumpa said that as she was being taken away, the staff member was talking and responded to her wave goodbye. 

Delumpa said she hopes this event might change how the school does fire evacuations.

“I came [to MVHS] in October, and there’s never been training on… what a safe evacuation should be. Everyone gets out of their rooms and it just becomes a crowd,” Delumpa said.

The fire alarm system did not respond to attempts to reset, and had to be manually shut down, resulting in the “all clear” announcement being delayed until 10:28 a.m.