One, I don't think I will be alerted if the dist is down now
This is the purpose of the alert you are configuring. You might want to create an additional alert that covers only the distribution switches.
second, what if I get an alert for the edge switch before orion knows the dist is down? Thoughts?
You can minimize the chances that a such scenario happen.
1) Decrease the Default Interval fo Nodes setting.
Open System Manager, File > Orion Network Performance Monitor Settings.
Select the Polling tab. Decrease the "Default Poll Interval for Nodes" setting.
2) Decrease the Node Warning Interval.
In System Manager, Click on File > Advanced Settings.
Select the Node Warning Interval tab, and decrease the value.
3) Configure the "Do not trigger this action until condition exists for more than" option in the Trigger Condition tab of your adv. alert to be above the sum of 1+2 .Therefore Orion will always have the time to know that the Dist. Switch is down before to trigger an alert for a node behind this switch.
I did not test it, but this how I would set it up. If you have specific requirements or do not want to overload your Polling Engine, I understand that you cannot decrease 1 & 2.
Now I just wish there was an easier way (like the basic alerts) to create that alert for my distribution switches. Thanks for the help Yann!