x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Realistic fire drill looked alarming

Only big problem was women hobbling to safety on high heels.

Dubai Civil Defence holds a mock fire and rescue drill at The Four Points By Sheraton hotel yesterday.
Dubai Civil Defence holds a mock fire and rescue drill at The Four Points By Sheraton hotel yesterday.

DUBAI // All that was missing when the fire and emergency crews arrived at a city hotel yesterday was flames and smoke. The incident looked real enough, even though it was all a drill. It allowed staff to show off their training and it worked well. The biggest problem was women in high-heeled shoes. When the alarm was raised at 10.30am yesterday 14 hotel guests and 133 staff streamed out of The Four Points By Sheraton on Sheikh Zayed Road to evacuation points, while fire engines and ambulances arrived with sirens blaring.

As emergency crews arrived, men and women were rushed around in wheelchairs, appearing to be unconscious and dressed with bloodied bandages. The "injured" received attention. Some feigned smoke inhalation and others pretended to have head and back injuries. One even played dead. "It looks real. I was walking to a coffee shop down the street and heard all the commotion. I was sure it was real because even the injured have blood on the bandages and the others look dead," said Mohammad Iqbal, 29, from Jordan. "The only thing missing is the smoke from a fire."

As well as putting out an imaginary fire, the Civil Defence crew had to rescue a guest "stranded" on a third-floor balcony of the 43-storey hotel. Susan Meissner from Germany, who was on holiday in the hotel, said it all happened so quickly. "It seemed to work very well," she said. The hotel opened over a year ago and its 208 staff have had two fire drills so far. "This is the first one with the Civil Defence and Dubai Police," said Mohamed El Aghoury, executive assistant manager.

Civil Defence and Dubai Police briefed the staff after the drill. "The biggest problem we saw was women wearing high heels. When there is an emergency and people are rushing out, tell women to take their high heels off," a Dubai Police spokesman said. eharnan@thenational.ae