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view from the top : Numerous trails of Mount Naomi lead through some of the most spectacular alpine scenery found in the intermountain west./ Photo by Melissa Kamis
Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

"The First Amendment gives everyone -- including nuts -- free speech,
but free speech has a purpose: that the people may judge for themselves
and bury the nuts with indignation. We fail our founding fathers if we
let blowhards rage on talk radio, in little magazines and in nasty
books without delivering counterattacks.

   -- Barron's, Aug. 9, 2004 (Thanks to alert WORDster John Mollwitz)

Mock earthquake shows USU still has work to do on disaster plan

By Emilie Holmes

March 30, 2004 | At about 9 Thursday morning, there was an earthquake on campus … but, it was only at the Haight Alumni Center. And, oh yeah, it wasn't real.

"The purpose of the mock disaster was to put the university in a position so that if there was a disaster, we'd have some practice dealing with it," university President Kermit L. Hall said after the two-hour drill.

"Eventually, things will go bad either here on campus or somewhere in the community."

Several months ago, Hall asked the University Ambassadors (the president's student council) to put together a mock disaster. The Ambassadors got busy and brought groups such as the Cache County Red Cross chapter, the Logan Fire Department and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) into the action. They also rounded up the "victims."

The earthquake hit at 9 and things started to roll. CERT members tried to organize victims according to the severity of their wound and just about anyone near the university could hear the fire engines coming up the hill.

Kaylynn Shakespear, a sophomore in community health, was "roped in" by a friend to be a victim, she said.

"I had some sort of abdominal wound," she said. "They did a really good job at wrapping it up."

From the Alumni Center, the "rescuers" took those injured to the Logan LDS Institute -- the shelter. The shelter, which happened to be the institute's gymnasium, had supplies ready and cots set up. Hand-written signs divided the room into what a real shelter would look like: "dining area," "health services," "counseling" and "children's play area."

Blythe Ahlstrom, the chairman of the Cache County Red Cross chapter, said in a real emergency, many of the people staying in the shelter would be uninjured, but either temporarily or permanently without a home.

"We need to have more of these [mock disasters]," he said. "It'll give us a chance to practice things we've trained to do."

President Hall walked through the Alumni Center to see how things were going before the victims were transported.

"I'd give them a B grade," Hall said of the rescuers. "I was very impressed with the responsiveness, but there is some additional tuning up to do."

Some of the "tuning up" might include not leaving the victims with the sucking chest wound and the one with the severed arm lying there for 30 minutes without attention, said Lynn Wright, a sergeant in USU's police department, who helped with the disaster.

While the 17 or so victims were being moved to the shelter, Hall decided to have a few of the other buildings on campus evacuated — to see how things went.

"It's good to keep an eye on things," Hall said.

Wright said people from the Geology Building started calling after they were evacuated wondering if the disaster response teams were coming over there. Wright didn't have any idea why they had evacuated but soon found out about Hall's evacuation call.

Rob McMillen, a senior in liberal arts and sciences and one of the president's Ambassadors, was one of the students who helped set up the drill.

"We recruited victims from the Ambassadors and personal friends," McMillen said.

Wright complimented the students on the activity and their energy.

"These guys -- they make things move," he said.

Representatives from the fire department told the 20 to 25 CERT members there to report to their local elementary school if a disaster were to ever occur in the community.Wright agreed and said all the resources available to help would be needed in an area emergency.

"It's very important to get the experience in case of the real thing," he said.


Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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