Earthquake rocks Skyline College

 (Shannon Elliot)

(Shannon Elliot)

“We’ve had a magnitude 7.1 earthquake on the San Andreas fault,” Dr. Victoria Morrow, president of Skyline College, announced to the school’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during an emergency training exercise held on Oct. 20.

This announcement came after detailed planning based upon the ficticious earthquake and other (fictitious) disasters that occurred in relation at the college some time before. These disasters, which included a fire in building seven and partial collapse in building two as well as the basic plan of action was invented in coordination with the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), by Emergency Management Consultant, Joe Horton.

According to Horton, this is the third time this emergency drill has been implemented on Skyline’s campus and the plan has been completely updated.

“The goal of it is to basically allow [The Emergency Response Team] to use the plan that [SEMS] developed for them in a realistic response.”

The event had incorporated many steps and careful planning. A siren went off at around 1 p.m. indicating the start of the earthquake. Surgical technology students acted out the roles of the victims. With convincing make-up the students portrayed the roles of injured and panicked students with medical conditions ranging from facial lacerations, bone fractures and head injuries to a student who was suffering from a heart attack and another who was pretending to be in labor. These details as well as the student’s blood pressure and pulse were written up on a sticker which was placed on each of the ‘victims’ prior to the ‘earthquake.’ The medical triage which consisted of the school nurses went around assessing the harm done to each of the victims. They labeled each person with a triage tag which indicated what level their condition was ranging from the label minor, delayed, immediate, or deceased. Most students were placed in the immediate category although it was determined that 3 students had died in the end. The students were then evacuated outside to the bus stop. Immediately after the earthquake struck the crisis action team which consists of the president, the vice presidents and a few others met to develop a plan and to assess the seriousness of the matter. They then consulted the EOC which consists of a group of approximately 40 members of staff and some faculty. The EOC is broken down into five subgroups: management, operations, planning, logistics and finance. A room was set up in building five with the five different tables representing these subgroups.

Joe Horton had developed a series of about 50 messages to be called into the different subgroups by the simulation team which consisted of three members.

The EOC made sure to keep track of all the emergencies, posting them up on whiteboards as they came in.

Both Lori Adrian vice president of student services and Morrow believe that the training was very helpful in learning which areas they needed to work on and which areas they’ve already got down. Adrian was pleased with the team’s ability to work together.

“I thought it went well, one of the themes that I saw today was really good teamwork.”