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Quake 2000: Campus simulates emergency response to Hayward Fault temblor

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Quake 2000: Campus simulates emergency response to Hayward Fault temblor

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs
Posted June 7, 2000

Transportation researcher Benedicte Bougler carried a child mannequin, wrapped in a blue fleece jacket, to a medical triage station outside Valley Life Sciences. It was 10:30 a.m. the morning of Berkeley's Quake 2000 disaster exercise, and her team had just rescued the "victim" and three others from Mulford Hall.

"So what's happening with the baby?" inquired a triage worker.

"It's in shock."

"'If the face is red, raise the head; if the face is pale, raise the tail,'" the volunteer recited, recalling her first aid training with the campus's HOME Team disaster response program.

Carefully, Berkeley staffers lowered the inflatable child into shock position on a bright patch on the lawn -- and then went the extra mile, assigning someone to shade the baby from the sun.

Such quick thinking, teamwork and simulated heroism, along with a sense of humor, was replicated throughout the morning of May 25, as 400 campus staff and students took part in the largest disaster field training ever conducted by a California university.

Lind Gee of the Berkeley Seismological Lab created the scenario, a 6.7 temblor on the Hayward Fault centered south-southeast of Fremont. Campus health professionals, police officers, physical plant and environmental health and safety workers, media relations experts and HOME Team volunteers practiced roles they would assume in a real emergency. Dozens of staff agreed to feign chest injuries, lacerated limbs and even death.

Architecture Professor Mary Comerio, an international authority on housing recovery following natural disasters, was among the observers who provided feedback on the training.

"It's very heartening that we do this," Comerio said. "It's absolutely clear that the more people have some training, the better they will behave in the real event."

Planning for Quake 2000 took nearly a year. Incidents following the simulated temblor included four reported fatalities, more than 100 injuries and a group of 200 trapped by debris.

Building coordinators also reported renegade lab mice, a fugitive venomous snake, a chlorine spill at Spieker Pool, a chemical release in a research lab, and damage to electrical, gas, water and pressurized steam lines.

Not everything went according to plan, however.

"This is a weird combination of drill and real life," said Emergency Preparedness Manager Tom Klatt, of a curve ball thrown into the mix just hours before the exercise began: a broken fire hydrant caused flooding in Haas Pavilion and in nearby Evans Diamond, where UC Police Officer Sherief Ibrahim had been planning to direct response for the campus's Emergency Management Area 7a.

"Adapt and overcome, I guess," Ibrahim said philosophically as he moved his command post to a new location outside the ball field's main gate.

By shortly after 9:15 a.m., he was arranging, on the hood of his police vehicle, Post-its listing fatalities, injuries, trapped people, damaged structures and hazardous materials spills reported in his area.

The most urgent emergencies, he decided, were injuries in Haas Pavilion and the Recreational Sports Facility. Ibrahim dispatched a group of building inspectors, search dogs and first aid workers under the seasoned leadership of UC Printing Services employee Monty Montoya, a 28-year Army veteran who served in San Francisco's rescue effort following the 1989 Loma Prieta quake.

"The dogs are trained to look for people in positions of distress," said Professor Kristin Luker, owner of one of campus's K-9 team dogs, who searched the rec center's main floor for quake "victims" while ignoring scores of surprised patrons climbing Stairmasters and pumping iron. "Maybe people in trouble give off stress hormones," she said.

Thanks to past practice on sunbathers outside Sproul Hall, the dogs promptly dismissed even those found in prone position in the stretching room, and continued to investigate the gym.

Meanwhile, outside Valley Life Sciences, volunteers who had earlier rescued the four people from Mulford Hall were being dispatched on a second sortie.

"You pretty much cover every square foot," explained Student Affairs Officer Jessea Greenman, as her unit searched the periphery of Tolman Hall for six reported victims. "If it's dark, you hook up via a tether, going counterclockwise around the building. It's protocol."

Just inside the east wing of Tolman they discovered financial aid staffers Barbara Bryce and Susan Williams, both of whom gained respect for earthquakes and earthquake preparedness in 1989: Bryce was crossing the Bay Bridge when the earth shook; Williams lived just blocks from where the Cypress Freeway collapsed, trapping vehicles between the decks. ("That night, you could still hear people moaning and groaning" from the wreckage, she recalled.)

As the two coworkers arrived at medical triage, a first aid volunteer approached Bryce, who was reportedly suffering from shock: "I'm Judy," she said. "What's your name? Do you remember the date today?"


June 7 - July 11, 2000 (Volume 28, Number 34)
Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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