“Drop, cover, hold on” are words people in the Philippines are used to hear. We all know, also in Italy, how a simulation of an emergency such as an earthquake looks like, thanks for example to those organized in school. But despite the importance of the situation, such simulations are usually nothing more than occasions to avoid examinations and to laugh with schoolmates about a tragic eventuality everyone thinks is never really going to happen.
In the Philippines, located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, this is different. With an average of 30 earthquakes per year, the seismic activity there is basically incessant. Earthquakes simulations thus play a fundamental role in preparing people to face what they cannot avoid.
On 21th April 2016, Kito Onlus took part to the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill through our Field Assistant Abby in the role of external observer. The simulation, held at the national level, was organized by the authorities. The procedure involves different phases: alarm, response, evacuation, assembly, headcount, evaluation. When the alarm rings, the basic operations are: drop to the floor, cover your head and neck and protect yourself under a safe shelter and hold on to something and until everything is over. When the alarm stops, count to 10 and then evacuate the area. Maintenance workers are the last ones to leave the buildings; their role is to make sure no one was left behind and they are also responsible for the headcount. Eventually, those in charge for the evaluation of the simulation gather together in order to focus on points that need to be improved.
Abby sums up the importance of simulations by saying that “we all know there are no signals of danger before an earthquake occurs. That is why we always need to be ready“.