x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Young and ready

Ian Hillman's quick reaction to a fire in his Khalidiya apartment building may well have saved the lives of its inhabitants.

How many times have you ignored a fire alarm? It's easy enough. Some alarms are only tests and others the result of malfunctions of an old building.

But Ian Hillman had it right when he followed his instincts. Last week he reacted to a fire alarm in his building, responding as if it were the real thing, which it was. The 13-year-old's quick reaction to a fire in his Khalidiya apartment building may well have saved the lives of its inhabitants.

But while instinct may have compelled this young men to act quickly, proper training plays a role, too. As Norm Labbe, the managing director of the Emirates Institute for Health and Safety in Abu Dhabi, tells The National today, schoolchildren can become "ambassadors of change" when they are taught to follow safety procedures. "They'll take it seriously and apply those learnings."

Unfortunate as the fire was, it served as a reminder that safety training can pay off. Like the residents of the Khalidiya building, we too can benefit by being prepared for an emergency. And in this case, "acting like a child" may serve as a lesson for us all.