Students trapped in SERF for emergency practice

For 25 students from University Hill Secondary School the June morning was filled with cries for help from inside collapsed debris, search and rescue dog teams, and TV cameras. It ended on stretchers in ambulances, on the way to hospital.

At 7:30 a.m. the young acting students had been tearing their clothes and smearing on fake blood at UBC's Surplus Equipment Recycling Facility (SERF). By noon they were being congratulated, along with about 75 other players.

"Six months of intensive planning resulted in a great success," says Paul Wong, UBC's personal security co-ordinator and chair of the emergency scenario committee.

Developed and facilitated by UBC's Dept. of Health, Safety and Environment, UBC's annual emergency scenario brings together first responders, external agencies and on-campus departments to test and revise the university's emergency response procedures. The 1999 edition, "Operation T-Bird," was a staged partial collapse of SERF.

Wong says it achieved the objectives of assessing and improving interagency communication and incident command at UBC and integrating the university's services with those of first responders.

"We also wanted to meet players from other organizations, learn, and have fun," he adds.

This year's scenario included more than 100 volunteers and emergency responders, including individuals from Campus Security, SERF, the President's Office and Public Affairs.

Other outside agencies included B.C. Ambulance Service, the Salvation Army Mobile Feeding Unit, the university detachment of the RCMP, Urban Search and Rescue, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, and Vancouver Hospital (UBC Site).