School’s elevators need tune-up


Emlyn Langlieb, Staff Writer

The door closes. The elevator moves, then abruptly stops with a loud thump. You flail at the emergency button and finally hit it. If you’re lucky, an alarm blares. No response. You cry out for help. You pick up bits of conversations in the hallway and realize no one hears you. You try to call the school on your cell phone, but more often than not, you don’t have service.
I should know. It happened to me three times last year.
Each time, I was stuck for about 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the day. By the third time, I was trying to hobble down the stairs because I was so nervous about riding the elevators.
I’m not alone. Substitute teacher Gerhard Friedrich got stranded in the new wing elevator around 2:20 p.m. Feb. 9, he said.
“I pushed the emergency switch button, but nothing happened. I began to panic a bit. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Friedrich said. “My next call was going to be 911.”
Luckily S.T.A.T. teacher Kim Culbertson heard Friedrich pounding and called someone from maintenance. It took the maintenance team several attempts, according to Friedrich, but they eventually got him out.
Friedrich recommends the school develop a more reliable action plan in case such incidents continue.
“When they were trying to get someone quickly, nobody responded,” Friedrich said.
Friedrich is the only person who has reported getting stuck in the elevator this year, but that still makes one person too many. Never should someone here get stranded with the elevator’s emergency button broken and be forced to wait at least 40 minutes to get out. A Griffin reporter noticed the certificate of registration and inspection in the old wing elevator March 16, which reads that it is only valid until March 9.
According to assistant principal Tom Dugas, who oversees school maintenance, the elevators are inspected monthly by an elevator service company. Twice a year they complete an extensive maintenance routine, Dugas said, adding that if the elevator gets stuck a technician is immediately summoned to fix it.
If current measures were enough, I wouldn’t have gotten stranded three times last year. The school needs to eliminate this awful safety hazard. Here is what I think should be done:

1. Completely renovate the elevators.
2. Post a note on elevators with the date of the last breakdown.
3. Replace the emergency button and alarm button.
4. Install a phone – especially in the old elevator – so that calls can be made directly to the office or janitors.
5. Fix the broken button outside the old-wing elevator (third floor).
6. Implement and practice a reliable action plan for use during elevator emergencies.

We can’t afford to wait for a renovation or a new school. This safety issue demands attention now.