Ever since I was little, there has always been talk about “The BIG One.” In school, each child had to bring in an earthquake kit from home that consisted of non-perishable food, a blanket and some simple first aid items. Then came the disaster drills. It was great for getting out of studies for a day, but you had to sit out in the hot sun until roll call was completed and the buildings were “clear.” And the worst part of it all was that you could not talk; you just had to sit quietly with nothing to do. The earthquake drills of my childhood, however, did not prepare me for all the excitement that could happen during a disaster drill in a healthcare setting.

The Safety Team had diligently planned out a hypothetical scenario for us to practice our evacuation procedures. Each department was notified of the date and time of the drill. Since the Good Shepherd Cottage is the newest building on our campus, it was decided that the main “damage” should occur there so as to acquaint everyone on campus with its layout and the location of emergency shut off valves. At the appointed time, a voice in each separate building loudly proclaimed: “This is an earthquake! Imagine the building shaking, drop, cover and hold on!…” Immediately, the staff responded.

One sister, in the midst of a phone conversation, crawled under her desk, still talking. I wonder what the person on the other end of the line would have said if he could have seen her unique position. The “Shake” announcement now ended, it was time to assess for damage and to evacuate. From all points of the campus, staff members traveled out of the buildings to converge on the Command Center, located on the Green in the center of the campus. “Injuries” in the Cottage were reported.

Each resident had their role assigned and they acted it out perfectly! One was given the role of being hysterical. However, instead of screaming, he decided to crack jokes the whole time. Another was assigned to have head injuries and she agreed to be carried out on the gurney. As they arrived on the green, she stated to the medical team, “I have a head injury, but I’m still conscious.” Yet another agreed to being bandaged up and looked like the bandaged drummer in the popular Revolutionary War scene.

Dietary arrived with emergency provisions and immediately began handing out water to all gathered. The emergency food of choice: Cookies! After winding down the scenario and finishing up the cookie in hand, we all gathered for a group photo. If disaster drills had been this much fun in school, I think I would have asked for at least one drill a month!


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