Meeting in an atmosphere very different from its peacetime predecessor, the second Air Raid Precautions course given by the University held its first meeting last night in New Lecture Hall. The new course will include required training in first aid, and members will be required to pass an examination before they may receive their insignia.
The large audience composed of students of Harvard and Radcliffe and Faculty and staff members and their families, were introduced to "What An Air Raid Warden Is Supposed to Do" by Mrs. DeRoth, a former warden of Chelsea, in London. Mrs. DeRoth were the uniform of Chelsea wardens including the steel helmet and gas mask. Remarking on the idealized conceptions of proper equipment for wardens, she said, "We used to hope the war would be over before we got all our equipment."
Helmet Strap Dangerous
Experience under raids taught London wardens to place the strap of the helmet behind the head rather than under the chin, Mrs. DeRoth said. "That way, the blast of a bomb isn't as likely to break your neck."
A warden's chief duty was described by Mrs. DeRoth as the reporting of "incidents," the reserved British term for bomb hits. In case of falling bombs, the wardens must be outside investigating every explosion, regardless of danger from the bombs or "Your own anti-aircraft, which make the most noise in a raid, anyway."
Long before the bombs fall, however, the warden must be hard at work becoming acquainted with every aspect of his sector. He is responsible for enforcement of blackout regulations, and though he has no police power, is expected to report to the police such violations as shop lights being left on. "Wardens do not break windows," said Mrs. DeRoth.
Safest Place Is Ground
During a raid the warden must go on about his business, but is expected to take elementary precautions for his safety. You can hear the bomb, according to Mrs. DeRoth, and there is nothing to do but throw yourself on the ground. "It may be difficult at first to hurl yourself into mud or dirt, but a soiled coat is certainly preferable to being blown a block away by the blast."
James A. McLaughlin, professor of Law and Warden of Cambridge zone 2, followed Mrs. DeRoth, speaking from the American angle in civilian defense. The main difficulty in the American setup at present, according to him, is that there are no nationwide principles of civilian defense. Central authority has been ineffective, and each lower echelon of administration has issued its own attempt at regulations, most of which have contradicted each other, he said.
The important thing, he said, is to be prepared. "The less we prepare, the more we invite disaster," he stated. "Though by preparing for what may never come we may feel like fools, it is that kind of fool that will win this war."
Meetings of the course will be regularly held in New Lecture Hall from 7:30 to 9:30 o'clock. The coordinated first aid classes will meet Monday through Friday in the Union.