Disaster preparedness at UP?

By The Beacon | March 23, 2011 9:00pm

(The Beacon)

By Rosemary Peters, Editor-in-Chief -- peters12@up.edu

Portland is due to have a massive earthquake.

According to scientists, the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which lies about 75 miles off the Oregon coast, has a fault which produces a major quake about every 250 to 500 years. Currently, we are about 311 years out from when the last one occurred.

According to Public Safety's Environmental Health and Safety Officer Jeff Rook, the shaker that will send the ground under Portland quaking is expected to be on par with the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Japan earlier this month.

"Disaster is going to be inevitable," Rook said. "With the one that strikes here, and not if but when, survival is optional."

In order to make sure the UP community is prepared for earthquakes, Rook started working with CCERT, the Community Campus Emergency Response Team.

CCERT trains students, faculty and staff not only from UP but Portland Community College and Portland State University as well.

According to Rook, 75 to 80 percent of people who respond in an emergency situation are volunteers. The purpose of the CCERT program is to make sure the University of Portland has some prepared volunteers.

"It's disaster medicine," Rook said. "It's learning how to take a cardboard box, strip it down and use it for splinting."

On April 1, CCERT will have a four-hour field experience day where members will utilize their training to size up a fake emergency situation and extricate victims from the emergency. They will also practice search and rescue as well as triage skills.

"There are one to two Public Safety officers to a total student body of over 3,000 plus faculty and staff," Rook said. "You are in a situation where you are completely overwhelmed. We want to make sure our campus members are better prepared."

UP has also taken steps to prepare for a disaster.

According to Rook, UP has a small stock of Koldkist water bottles on campus, despite the water bottle ban that was implemented last year. The Bauccio Commons has three days worth of food that could sustain up to 3,000 people.

"We have at least that much product on campus during the academic calendar," Kirk Mustain, the general manager of Bon Appétit, said in an email. "Obviously we would amend the style of service and offerings but I feel confident that we would be able to take care of the university community."

Back-up generators are in Franz Hall, Shiley Hall and Public Safety that can run for a week or two at full capacity.

"In an emergency situation we wouldn't be running them at full capacity," Rook said.

According to Rook, secondary items would not be powered up to make the generators last longer.

The school also has an agreement with Belfor Property Restoration so UP could receive a back-up generator for the Chiles Center within 24 to 48 hours of an emergency.

Finally, Rook encourages everyone to make a 72-hour kit for his or her place of residence.

"Each kit should have one gallon of water per person per day," Rook said.

He said the kits should also include at least a week's worth of food that doesn't take much effort to prepare, such as Power Bars.

A full list of supplies to include in a kit can be found on Public Safety's website at http://www.up.edu/showimage/show.aspx?file=7037.

"How many more times before it actually happens do we need to see examples before we get prepared?" Rook said.

The next CCERT class is coming up this summer. Students can contact Rook at rook@up.edu if they want to take the class.