Emergency Preparedness Exercise Checks Campus Planning, Readiness

Emergency Preparedness Exercise Checks Campus Planning, Readiness
“Victims” of a simulated fire and rescue in the CLA Building Friday morning at Cal Poly Pomona are treated by rescue personnel.
Los Angeles County firefighters climb to the sixth floor of the CLA Building during the mock disaster.
Los Angeles County firefighters Bryce Lahiff, top and Ray Montanez climb up to the sixth floor to rescue a woman who has become trapped and confused after “suffering” from smoke inhalation during a simulated fire and rescue.

The fire alarm sounded at the CLA (Classroom-Laboratory-Administration) Building at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 27. Word quickly spread that smoke was present on the sixth floor of the tower side and that not everyone had been accounted for during evacuation.

Fortunately, in this instance the old adage ?where there?s smoke, there?s fire? did not hold true. That?s because the entire event was part of am emergency preparedness exercise, intended to simulate a disaster while checking the university?s planning and readiness.

While there was no true tragedy, the reaction proved both timely and real. Los Angeles County Fired Department Battalion 19 (Pomona/Walnut), under the direction of Chief Tom Page, and Battalion 15 responded to the call with essentially an entire battalion involved.

In charge of the operation was Emergency Services Coordinator Debbi McFall, who directed planning of the event, working closely with Capt. Russell Blackschlager of nearby L.A. County Fire Station 187. McFall then observed the response of both on and off-campus personnel as the drill took place.

?This was an outstanding performance by everyone involved. I can?t say enough about the efforts of the fire department. They worked all aspects, including search and rescue of the building and a high-rise ladder evacuation of a volunteer (staff member Susan Vienna) from the sixth floor,? said McFall. ?We did find some mistakes along the way, but then that?s the purpose of doing this. It has to be a disaster situation for it to be a drill. It?s better that we can find the mistakes under these circumstances than in a real emergency.?

Along with the high-rise evacuation, volunteers were utilized as victims to be rescued and treated a trauma center set up outside the CLA Building. A makeup artist assisted to provide realistic appearance of both minor and life-threatening injuries.

The entire drill took less than 90 minutes to complete. Students were allowed to reenter the classroom section of the building prior to 10 a.m., with the tower side cleared for access by 10:20 a.m. Individuals evacuated during the event were directed to the campus? Union Plaza, where a continental breakfast was provided during the wait for completion of the drill.