Campus prepares for emergencies May 3-7

May 3-7 is Emergency Preparedness Week across B.C. and at the province's largest university there will be campaigns to provide information and raise awareness, including fire and earthquake drills.

"We will stage short, quick earthquake drills in some classes and present other activities and opportunities for people to learn more," says Jody Sydor, UBC's emergency planning co-ordinator.

"During the week we hope everyone at UBC asks themselves, `When was the last time I crawled under my desk in an earthquake drill, or took part in a fire drill? Am I prepared?'"

Sydor points out that at the university perfecting disaster planning and education takes place on a day-to-day, year-round basis. Everyone has opportunities to become better informed.

More than 1,750 UBC employees have completed emergency training workshops and nearly 100 participated in fire warden training says Sydor, who works on developing the university's disaster plan in Health, Safety and Environment.

She is also responsible for training faculty, staff and students in emergency preparedness and response at a local level, and for roles on the university's emergency response teams.

Rapid building damage assessment, emergency social services, first aid and fire safety are other training areas offered to support UBC's overall emergency capacity.

An essential component of the community-wide disaster planning process is the annual emergency scenario. This year it's being dubbed, "Operation T-Bird." It is UBC's eighth scenario and is being staged on campus June 10.

"It will be a simulated partial structure collapse of one of the campus ice rinks complete with actors from University Hill Secondary School," says Sydor. "For the first time, we're announcing the scenario in advance to encourage everyone at UBC to become more informed about emergencies and the roles they could play in one."

Health, Safety and Environment conducts the emergency scenario in conjunction with a committee of representatives from other departments and first responders including the B.C. Ambulance Service, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, the RCMP, Campus Security and UBC Hospital.

The scenarios provide an opportunity for emergency services and university personnel to put their skills and procedures to the test.

In past years, a simulated plane crash, major motor vehicle accidents, chemical spills and the explosion of hazardous materials have been staged.

"They provide an invaluable opportunity for inter-agency co-operation," says Ross Eliason, a fire prevention officer with Vancouver Fire and Rescue. "First responders actually meet and interact with the university community, which is very important."

For information on emergency preparedness on campus and the university's emergency plans, call 604-822-1237 or e-mail