Eye Opener: How did IRS workers survive that plane crash?
Happy Wednesday and Happy St. Patrick's Day! Have you wondered how so many people safely escaped last month's plane crash at Internal Revenue Service offices in Texas?
The plane's pilot and only one IRS worker were killed in the crash -- thanks to quick-thinking employees who had regularly rehearsed fire and evacuation drills.
National Treasury Employee Union President Colleen M. Kelley told lawmakers on Tuesday about the experiences of some of those workers during a House hearing on federal building security. Though it's not the definitive account of the crash and its aftermath, Kelley's testimony merits a mention here:
Upon impact, the burning fuel from the plane quickly filled the air with black smoke making it impossible for many in the building to see anything. Yet, employees near exits delayed their own escape so others could follow their voices and find their way out. Employees who were outside the building went back in to help evacuate disabled employees who worked in the mail room.
An IRS employee with a disability told her co-worker to leave her on the fourth floor because she could not walk down the stairs. He insisted she climb on his back, saying he had carried soldiers that way when he was in the service. He carried her on his back down the four flights to safety.
Andrew Jacobson and Morgan Johnson and four others were trapped on the second floor of the building, unable to get to the exit because of smoke, flames, heat and debris. They crawled on their hands and knees, breathing through clothing they had dampened with water, looking for a way out.
Morgan shouted through a broken window and got the attention of Robin DeHaven, an employee of a glass company, who was miraculously passing by with a 20 foot ladder on his truck. Robin, later dubbed 'Robin Hood' by those he rescued, stopped and tried to reach the trapped employees. The ladder could not reach the window that was already broken. Andrew remembered a four foot metal crow bar used for property seizures was kept in the office.
After a few attempts and several gashes to his hand and wrist, Andrew and the others succeeded in breaking a window through which they could get out and reach the ladder, clearing the glass and helping each other down Robin DeHaven’s ladder to safety.
During the hearing the Federal Protective Service officials said they have taken several steps to address security gaps first exposed last year.
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| March 17, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener
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