Hundreds of guests streamed out of the Gettysburg Wyndham about 3:15 a.m. Saturday as a fire alarm blared, but hours later the reason the alarm was tripped was still unclear and many people were wondering why it took so long for emergency personnel to respond.
Guests who lingered outside for close to an hour described the early-morning disturbance as shocking and said they were exasperated by the lack of information from hotel employees since there was no fire.
“No emergency vehicles came and we just stood there and waited and waited and waited,” said Mary Singleton, a guest at the hotel. Eventually, she quit waiting and returned to her room, even though the alarm was still sounding.
An ambulance arrived at the hotel at least a half an hour after the alarm went off, and a fire truck was a few minutes behind.
“You’ve got hundreds of people in the parking lot ostensibly because there’s a fire that could be catastrophic, and you’ve got emergency response that does not show up,” said another guest, Douglas Stewart.
The hotel office manager, Richard Phillips, said hotel staff had been unable to identify the sensor that initiated the alarm or why it had gone off.
“The fire alarm company will be here on Monday morning to figure out what caused the alarm to go off,” Phillips said. He referred further questions to a general manager who did not return a phone message.
Hershel Shank, co-chief of the Gettysburg Fire Department, did not return a phone message. A person who answered the phone at the station said no one who responded to the call was available to speak about it.
As frustrated guests waited outside, hotel personnel said they were unable to provide guests with more information.
“I think they should’ve come out and said something. We just were standing – no one even knew if we had to leave the rooms or not,” Singleton said.
Stewart asked for more information, but hotel employees had little to give.
“They said, ‘we’re the only two people here, there’s no engineer on site, we don’t know what to do, we’ve called [the fire department], nobody has responded,’” Stewart said.
Other guests are annoyed that they haven’t been compensated for the annoyance.
“If it was a fire, it was okay, but if it was an accident of the hotel they should pay half of our room rate. They’re a very good hotel, and if they’re a good hotel they’ll do something to compensate,” Keith Kisling, another guest, said.
A stretcher that was brought into the hotel was rolled out later with no one laying on it.
Though the alarm inconvenienced guests, some were less critical of the hotel’s response.
One of these guests, Peter Archbold said, “it’s life, things happen.”