Messaging Technology & Human Error: Perfect Terror

Early in May, I reported on Ohio School Board Association endorse an automated emergency messaging system. The technology is probably great; it is human error that can cause the real problems–problems like inducing mass panic. That is what happened in Mason, Ohio.

Local 12-WKRC-TV made the following report on May 27:

Last week parents were notified by mail, e-mail and notices sent home with students that there would be a mock disaster drill at a Mason City School this week. But they did not know in advance the exact location or time of the drill, which is standard procedure.

The mock disaster drill was at Mason Heights Elementary School. The situation was a boiler had exploded, and everyone needed to evacuate the building. The drill is a test to make sure in a real emergency, everything goes smoothly but that didn’t happen.

It may have only been a drill but…

almost 100 parents rushed to a local school after they were notified there was an explosion.

If the school officials had forewarned all parents, why did the drill cause such mass confusion and panic?

The Public Information Officer used the emergency call system to send a message about the explosion to all Mason Heights parents. However, she forgot to mention it was a drill. Hundreds of frantic parents rushed to the school to check on their students, only to find there was no emergency.

Human error sank the Titanic and human error momentarily sank the heart of many of Mason Heights Elementary School parents.

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