Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Drill - 4:53 pm

Lifeguard shack, Santa Monica Beach. Click to "embiggen."

At my new assignment, one of the first things the staff told me they needed was training in emergency evacuation procedures. As part of our business and their duties, they would be overseeing guests during evening and weekend events, and they wanted to be sure they were properly trained to act in an emergency. What if a fire was reported? A tsunami? An earthquake?

I did some inquiries and set up a training session. A written plan was sent to us in anticipation of the training, we discussed it with the trainer and then we conducted a drill. We went back to our desk, were alerted for an emergency scenario, found out reflective vests, hardhats and clipboards, evacuated one another from our offices and gathered at the proper assembly site.

But - as we pointed out to the trainer - the drill was designed for the 9 - 5 operation of our business - not the evening and weekend operation, where staffing was minimal and conditions were different. So, after we walked through the drill, we returned to the training room to talk about how to customize the plan for the evening and weekend operation.

"So that was a full-facility evacuation with a large public presence," I said to the trainer. "But what about our evening event scenario - maybe a dinner for 100 guests in one event room. And maybe it's not a major incident, but it's something minor - like a little shaker, for instance - a small earthquake. What do we do?"

"Good question," said our trainer. Then she stopped.

"Uh oh," said one of the staff.

The ground kind of rolled beneath our chairs.

We looked at one another.


"Uh....was that an earthquake?" said someone.

"I think so."

We looked outside through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The windows held firm. There were no creaking sounds. On the building across the courtyard, a hanging lantern light swayed back and forth, back and forth, slowly.

I looked at the person who had played the role of Team Leader for the all-facility evacuation drill. Her face was calm.

"So....what do we do? Evacuate?"

She shrugged. Everything seemed OK.

We looked out across the courtyard. The lantern light slowed and soon hung still, plumb.

The 5.4 quake happened today around 4:53 pm and was centered about 28 miles south of Palm Springs. It swayed skyscrapers in downtown San Diego, jolted the folks at the police station in Riverside, and knocked items off the shelf at shops in Borrego Springs

But in Santa Monica, on the beach, no damages were reported.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The beach was mellow like lemon jello.

Gilly said...

Well, so long as something more serious doesn't happen when you are all standing around thinking about it!! ;)

I think you ought to 'borrow' about 100 students, sit them down to a phantom dinner, and then get them to panic at a shout of 'fire!'

Then you could practice evancuating them! :)

Lovely beach!


Glad it was just a ride. I was schooled in geology and get excited and enjoy earthquakes. Of course, I haven't experienced a tragic quake and hope I never will.

cactus petunia said...

Don't ya just love it when real life meets simulation?

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

The timing was about as perfect as it could get! :)
Growing up in the Seattle area, I was taught to get under a desk or table (to protect my head from falling debris) or situate myself firmly in a doorway by holding onto the door frame. The latter is how my mother spent her time during the Nisqually quake.

Nej said...

You never told me you had the power to see into the future!!!!! :-)