Tulsa County Courthouse Evacuation Goes Smoothly

Wednesday, May 28th 2014, 1:28 pm
By: Dave Davis

Hundreds of people left the Tulsa County Courthouse Wednesday morning, but it wasn't a real emergency. The courthouse was evacuated as part of a fire drill.

It took six minutes for 800 employees, attorneys and visitors to pour out of the Tulsa County Courthouse, and Administration Building, at 9:30 Wednesday morning. It was the first time in two years they've done this type of drill.

The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office split the crowd into two groups, directing them to separate parking lots. They waited several minutes before being allowed back in.

Captain Bill McKelvey with the Tulsa Count Sheriff's Office said, "When we evacuated the building, everybody wanted to come to the plaza, and if this was an actual fire, we had to push them back to the ALoft Hotel, cause we would have had to put fire engines right here."

The planned fire drill was part of a certification for Tulsa County Sheriff's Office and the County Courthouse, and they have to do mass evacuations like this every two years.

They say it's important to prepare for a real emergency, including natural disasters or terrorist threat.

It was orchestrated with the help of people called floor wardens, who work with deputies to make sure two buildings and nine floors are clear.

The evacuees were funneled into two parking lots; some had to go across Sixth Street to get to their lot.

McKelvey said one of the concerns they originally had about this was moving so many people at once, some of them crossing the street, that there would be some injuries. But he said no one was hurt during the evacuation.

"Of course there's always complaints, the general public did not know we was holding this, and of course we had people who were here to conduct business, that were complaining," McKelvey said.

If you had court date at 9 a.m., all the judges pushed back their dockets and didn't start proceedings until after the drill was over.

Darrin Rollins had a court date at 9 a.m., and said the drill made him late for work.

"I'm kind irritated, but I understand that everybody has to have their drills and stuff to make sure the building's in proper order. So I know they gotta do what they gotta do," Rollins said.

McKelvey said everything went well, from a safety standpoint.

"I'm happy to report that we have no injuries. I was expecting to have twisted ankles, slips and falls and that type of thing, and right now we have none," Captain McKelvey said.

The Sheriff's Office emphasized this is also a learning experience. They admit there were some communication issues that they need to iron out.

They plan to meet and talk more about what went well, and what didn't.