PCC joined thousands of participants in southern California in what is said to be the largest earthquake simulation drill in history.This exercise, entitled “The Great Southern California Shake-out”, called for a feigned 7.8 earthquake, which PCC officials went to great lengths to authenticate.
The U Building was evacuated and served as the response center where emergency scenarios played out.
Students atop the U Building were treated with first aid after suffering from “lacerations” due the building’s greenhouse shattering over them.
On the fourth floor, two students were “trapped” under fallen rubble whereby a search and rescue was put underway. One of the students was made to be a quadriplegic that had to be wheeled down using a special wheelchair meant for stairs.
A student in the third floor suffered from “burns” from a “chemical spill”, as well as inhaling the fumes created by the spill.
The urban search and rescue team came across a “deceased” person in the building. “We have an option – tactically – of leaving the dead behind while we continue to seek out other survivors. We elected in this case to go ahead and evacuate the ‘dead’ body,” said Lt. Brad Young.
Once carried out of the building, the “victims” were taken to a triage on the east side of the C Building where they received proper treatment.
“I don’t think we encountered any problems that we hadn’t anticipated. We thought this out pretty critically. We created the disaster, and because we created it we were well aware and prepared to handle the disaster,” said Young.
During the first 90 seconds of the drill, earthquake-related ambience played over loud speakers, followed by a recorded message telling student to seek refuge or to duck and cover.
“A lot of logistical effort went into it to make it as real as possible, but in reality this isn’t anywhere near what it would be like,” said Police Chief Peter Michael.
The campus Emergency Operation Center, for this exercise, was located just outside the police station (T Building) where officials met to assess damages and plans of action. According to Juan Gutierrez, director of public relations, however, a permanent EOC meeting point will be provided when Measure P construction finishes.
Updates to classroom emergency logs are expected in the near future to accommodate PCC’s newest procedures. These additions would coincide with special disaster preparedness training lead by Young.
“Our emergency response team is going through 16 weeks of training. They’ve just completed their fifth week of training,” said Young.
The imagined earthquake, scientists believe, would cause 2,000 deaths, 50,000 injuries and $200 billion in damage.
Within the next 30 years, US Geological Survey said California faces a 46% chance of being hit by a magnitude 7.5 or higher earthquake.
The last major earthquake to strike California, a magnitude 6.7 in 1994, left 57 people dead.