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Harvard's No Crisis Handler


By Steven Luxenberg

A sudden death and a grease fire in the Lowell House kitchen brought charges this week by members of the Harvard community that the University is ill-equipped to handle emergency situations.

Alfred T. Pickering Jr. '74 died Monday after collapsing in Economic 1350. He slumped over in his chair, unable to breathe. After some confusion. Paul A. Parisi '75, left the Sever Hall classroom to phone University Health Services.

William Kaden, head of UHS emergency, arrived at 10:15 a.m., 25 minutes after Pickering collapsed, and 20 minutes after Parisi's call. Harvard policemen had reached the building between 10 and 10:05 a.m. and immediately radioed for a doctor. Repeated attempts by the police to revive the stricken student failed.

Kaden pronounced Pickering dead at 10:20 p.m.

Several students in Fe 1350 wrote letters criticizing the Health Services and the Harvard police for the delay in rushing medical help to sever.

The Pickering incident calls into question the effectiveness of the joint emergency procedures used by the Harvard police and UHS. Some witnesses claim that quicker medical attention would have averted Pickering's death.

The cause of the death is still unknown. UHS personnel indicated that Pickering may have suffered a heart attack.

Members of the University community also attacked the Food Services Department this week for a lack of proper fire equipment. A grease fire caused extensive damage to the Lowell House kitchen last Saturday, forcing the dining hall to close for the day.

The kitchen was equipped with only one fire extinguisher, a CO2 model primarily effective in electrical fires. Students rushed to the dining hall with water extinguishers from the entries, Which are largely ineffective in combating grease fires.

The Cambridge Fire Department recommended that powder extinguishers--the only type chemically designed to stop grease fires--be installed in the Harvard kitchens.

Mather House also suffered extensive damage this week as a pipe broke flooding the Commons area with a considerable amount of water.

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