THON Organizers Revamp Emergency Evacuation Plan

By Mallory Lane

Published 02/18 2014 05:53PM

Updated 02/18 2014 06:16PM

PENN STATE, UNIVERSITY PARK - THON is just a few days away and this year, there are new safety measures in place.

This will be the first year students involved in THON will participate in an evacuation drill prior to the actual THON event this weekend.

Organizers say participating in this kind of drill is essential to prepping for anything that could go wrong.

15,000 people. That's the number of people expected to participate in this year's THON weekend.

"I had a nightmare over the summer about an emergency situation in the Bryce Jordan Center and I didn't know how I would have handled it," THON's Rules and Regulations Director, Janine Patton, said. "Being one of the point people in leading an evacuation, that was kind of eye opening for me."

Patton is one of the masterminds behind changes to the plan.

"We've always had our evacuation plan, but this year was the first year we actually had a live drill, too, for all volunteers who would be involved in running through an evacuation to walk through the responsibilities," she said.

Patton says this way, everyone is prepared.

"We have a couple of different locations based on the different demographics of people," she said. "Dancers will go somewhere, families go somewhere, volunteers and spectators, so we're just making sure everyone knows specifically where they need to go, depending on what group they fall under."

"We had a few people there who were able to go around and just ask them questions that somebody evacuating might ask them to make sure they can answer those questions," Penn State's Emergency Planning Manager, Pam Soule, said.

Soule is no stranger to emergency planning. She says with an event like THON, it's essential everyone involved communicates.

"One of the things, of course, you always worry about in a large venue is a fire," Soule said. "That's usually the one we think about when we think about having to evacuate an entire venue is that something might happen and there might be a fire in the facility."

It's not just a fire these students need to prepare for, as any number of emergencies can happen.

Soule thinks these students are ready.

"I think they did a great job and I'm very confident they're ready, should something occur," she said.

THON kicks off Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State's main campus.

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