Saturday, October 22, 2005

Shake it up, baby

Over the past week we've been doing a whole lot 'a shakin'. Three fairly large earthquakes in fact, measuring 6.5 , 5.8. and 5.5 have occurred within one week. Fortunately, there was no real damage or serious injuries.

I've tried for months to convince my British boss that we should prepare some kind of earthquake plan at work--and volunteered to organize it--but he's reluctant. Turns out he's worried that once we have a plan in effect a large earthquake will inevitably happen. "This is called superstition", I told him.

So, a language school with 22 small classrooms, that teaches several hundred children and adults weekly, must rely on one child's "Earthquake Backpack" filled with one flashlight, some extra batteries, a small box of bandages, and a quart of water.

We have no call-in plan where teachers could call from wherever they happen to be to confirm their safety. We have no instructions about where to go for emergency shelters. We have no CPR or other emergency training. We have rooms and offices loaded to the gills with heavy objects that aren't fastened to the walls or secured in any way. We do, however, have some sort of apparatus in the third-floor teachers' lounge that's supposed to be a hoist to lower people out the window. No one knows how to use it. We've never had any kind of drill or training whatsoever so consider it somewhat worthless in an emergency where we might have to evacuate within minutes--or less.

Japanese seem intractable when it comes to facing the reality of an earthquake. The government makes an annual attempt to convince its citizens and businesses that they should prepare for an earthquake. The reality is that almost no one does.

1 comment:

Colleen B said...

Hi Gloria,
Things are the same here in Vancouver BC! We sit on that same ring of fire, and everyone knows that the 'big one' is coming, but no one is prepared at all. I think it's an "out of sight, out of mind" thing.