DAGUPAN CITY – At a given signal, school children from the West Central I Elementary School simultaneously went out of their classrooms and each one of them headed towards a designated evacuation area.
This was part of the nationwide simultaneous earthquake drill held on July 22 to prepare students and pupils of what they ought to do to save themselves when a big earthquake comes, similar to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Dagupan and a large part of North and Central Luzon on July 16, 1990.
Guided by their teachers, the pupils queued to an open area in front of their school with books on top of their heads while medical teams from the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) at the same time hurriedly responded to help the injured inside classrooms in a scene similar to an actual situation after a strong earthquake.
Members of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) also arrived to put off the fire from the Home Economics Building which was in flame right after the earthquake.
At the end of the drill, Mayor Belen T. Fernandez gave a short message where she encouraged the children to always keep in mind whatever they have learned during the drill. She went on to enjoin them to pray that no earthquake similar in magnitude to the July 16, 1990 earthquake would happen again.
She also reminded the teachers, who were provided by the city with disaster preparedness brochures, a flashlight and a cross whistle at the end of the drill, to have a presence of mind when disaster strikes to save the lives of their students.
The drill was spearheaded by the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council headed by Fernandez, together with the Department of Education, Philippine National Police, Department of Interior and Local Government and Bureau of Fire Protection.
Two days earlier, Fernandez met with the different heads of schools and of the Department of Education as well as members of the Disaster Risk Reduction Committee where she asked them to put up their respective preparedness plan to be integrated into the city’s family preparedness program.
Fernandez said that family preparedness means knowing the threat that affects the city like floods, earthquake, storm surge and possibly tsunami.
“Time is of the essence and for me there is no such thing as 100% percent preparedness. In our city before tsunami hits us, we have already identified Privately Hosted Evacuation Centers with the help of volunteer engineers. These buildings can withstand a strong quake and a seven meter-high tsunami and therefore ideal to host evacuees. According to our PARMC, there are around 200 owners of these buildings who have already officially given their consent to be PHECs,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez said a citywide earthquake drill will be held on July 30 that will involve all schools. (Joseph C. Bacani/CIO)