Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Disaster Preparedness

Like ... well, I hope, everyone ... I am all kinds of happy and relieved that the Chilean miners all got rescued safely.  I really kept expecting it to go to shit at any time -- not that I wanted it to, mind, but that, after the whole BP oil spill thing, I guess I was in a frame of mind where I just expected each successive attempt to go massively wrong.  Instead, there was calm brilliance on this, from beginning to end.  Way to go, Chile!

Changing direction, though, I just received a flyer (and an email) about the Great California ShakeOut -- California's statewide earthquake preparedness drill.  Basically, at 10:21 on October 21, we're all supposed to stop, drop and roll... no, wait, that's not it ...  "drop, cover, and hold on" (not nearly as catchy) while various first responders around the state test their first responsiveness.

Reminded me of the first one of these in which I participated, back in High School.  The idea was that we (and all other schools, and various other entities) were going to simulate a quake of a certain magnitude.  The earthquake drill bell would go off and we'd all drop under our desks.  Certain students were directed in advance to pretend to be injured.  Everyone else would then vacate their classrooms and wait out on the football field.  The "injured" students would be taken to the makeshift hospital, where there'd be mock triage and various responsible students -- under the direction of the school nurse -- would practice wrapping bandages around wounded limbs.

The "injured" students were all played by the "Leadership" students in my school.  I guess they wanted only the most responsible kids to be hurt.  I wasn't in Leadership, but I was one of the top students, so asked the administrator in charge if I could play some part as well.  My quick-thinking principal said that all the "injured" parts were taken (wouldn't it be nice if earthquakes were so orderly?) but offered that I could be dead.

A storyline was quickly created (apparently, despite my academic prowess, I was the only kid in the whole school too stupid to drop under my desk during an earthquake and got taken out by a light fixture).  When the drill happened, I slumped in my chair and did my impression of dead.  My teacher dutifully evacuated the rest of the class to the football field, leaving me in my chair and the words, "one casualty" on the chalkboard.

Nobody had quite explained what would happen next, but I stayed there, slumped, opening one eye a bit to peek around and see if anything was going on.  Eventually, campus security found me.  ("I'm not sure she's dead," one officer memorably said to the other, "maybe you should put a round into her just to be sure.")  I was then taken via "fireman's carry," (not entirely pleasant when you're actually conscious) to the science classroom, which they'd decided would be the morgue.  (Not a bad idea, when you think about it.  The place had already been used for dissection.)

Once in there, I was ignored for the rest of the drill.  Poked my head out once or twice to see the rest of the school sitting out in the hot sun on the field while I was nice and cozy in the air-conditioned science lab.  All things considered, the dead had it better than the living for the bulk of that drill.

The irony of the whole thing is that I was probably the one part of the drill that was actually a suirprise.  The list of Leadership students had been pre-circulated to the responders, but I was the one-and-only corpse, and the role had been given to me at the last minute without anyone else knowing.  But Security reacted properly, and someone found me a nice cool room in which to ... not decompose.  Well done all around.

1 comment:

Lori said...

Great story. I would think that would be the way it should be in a drill like that. There should be a surprise or two to make sure the real emergency first responders could do the right thing. I was very happy that the miner's rescue went without a hitch too.