Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Did our Elevator Fall One and a Half Floors Down?

The elevator was already moving when my wife asked me what floor we are getting off. I just finished replying with ground floor when we heard a loud noise that felt like our car hit a hard metal beneath us, except that we were going up.

Basement 1 car park is full so we proceeded to basement 2. There were several people waiting outside the elevator, but we managed to get in first and stayed at the back. We were at least ten in the lift, including the elevator girl. That was when it happened, just when the indicator above showed that we are at the ground floor.
We waited for the doors to open, but nothing happened. After a few minutes, we realized that we are stuck in the elevator. This is not my first time in this situation, so I remained calm and waited for the elevator girl to contact facilities. I tried to comfort my wife and son by talking to them, knowing that my wife has a heart problem. It was then that we learned that the elevator girl could not contact facilities. I assume that there is no intercom since I cannot see one from where I stand at the back. Either that or it is not functioning. However, the blower fan and lights are still working, as well as the floor indicator light.

I can feel that my wife is starting to get worried. She kept on asking me for the best position in case the car falls. I answered lying flat, based on what I saw in a TV documentary. That would not be possible though since the car was full. Researching when we got home, I learned that slightly bending the knees might minimize injury.

For some reason the elevator girl could not use her mobile phone. The man beside her offered his phone, only to find out that Smart has no signal inside the elevator. We are also using Smart. Several minutes already passed. Another girl behind her offered her Globe phone, which thankfully has a signal. However, the line was busy and they had to retry. Unfortunately, the succeeding call was not answered.
We observed that there is a camera above, but we could not tell if we are being monitored. The elevator girl started banging the elevator door. Her phone rang and she told the one at the other end that we are stuck at the ground floor and asked that the doors be opened. Several minutes passed. She repeatedly banged the doors and shouted that we are trapped inside. After a few minutes, we heard a voice saying that they are working to open the doors. It sounded like it was coming from above us.

Finally, the doors opened. I know from experience that the car doors may not be aligned with the outside doors, so I told my son to wait until the ones in front got out. I want a clear path going outside when we cross the doors. The elevator girl assured me that the elevator was disabled. She may have sensed I am worrying that the car would suddenly move.
Our car was higher than the outside doors. I was expecting that our car was a little below ground floor level. As soon as we jumped out, I looked back to see the elevator girl going out. I took a picture with my phone, but the flash went off. I would have preferred to be discreet. I took a second picture to be sure and the security person noticed me. He asked me not to take any more pictures. I quickly led my wife and son away, worried that I may be asked to delete the pictures.
It was then that I realized that we were not at the ground floor. We were asked to use the emergency stairs going up. I thought we got out from basement 1, but we were surprised that the next floor was basement 1. Our car actually stopped almost halfway from basement 2. Did our car fall when we reached the ground floor? Was the loud noise a result of the fail-safe mechanism working to prevent the car from falling further? I cannot think of a reason why we were at basement 2 when the indicator showed we were supposedly at the ground floor.
On our way back to the basement parking a few hours later, we saw a sign at the elevator, though I was not able to read it. We used the escalator at the other entry instead.
Does this mean that elevators could be unsafe? On the contrary, it strengthened my view that the fail-safe mechanism of elevators work. However, I am quite concerned that there was no intercom in the car, or there is a possibility that it was not working. It was fortunate that most passengers were young people. Older people with heart problems or young kids could have panicked in there. A working intercom would have allowed outside personnel to assure those trapped inside that work is being done to help us. In our case, it took several minutes before someone answered the elevator girl’s shouts. We did not appreciate the way they replied either. Sila pa ang galit (they sounded like they were angry) because the elevator girl kept on shouting and banging at the doors. We were not even asked if we are okay after we got out.


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