MORE practice needed.

A 25-minute general evacuation drill last June 30 revealed a critical gap in UST’s disaster response strategy: coordination.

The 10 a.m. drill put to test the evacuation plan in cases of earthquake designed by the Crisis Management Team, headed by Vice Rector for Finance Fr. Manuel Roux, O.P.

“The drill [was] good. Thomasians were very cooperative and you saw how organized the colleges were,” said Office for Public Affairs director Giovanna Fontanilla, who is also a member of the Crisis Management Team.

But Orly Revalo, president of the Red Cross Youth Council-Engineering Chapter, said students got confused with the sound system in the Roque Ruaño building.

“They (students) were informed that two sirens [will ring], but it was the sound of the bell [used during class dismissals] that came out,” he said. “They were also irritated because the bell rang three times.”

Students in the AMV-College of Accountancy also said they were not able to get information clearly, taking them longer time to leave the multi-deck carpark.

Security chief Joseph Badinas admitted that the alarms in the different buildings in the campus were not synchronized, causing confusion.

“The ringing of sirens was not synchronized. Some rang even before the other sirens did,” he said. “They should have followed the sound coming from the [speakers near the] CCTV [cameras], but it also came late because of Internet problems.”

Moreover, College of Architecture Dean John Joseph Fernandez, who devised the evacuation plan, said some students did not want to occupy the grandstand—which was intended as an evacuation area—because of the scorching heat.

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“Students should cooperate well, whether it is raining or very hot,” he said. “Some areas were congested because of the unorganized flow of the people. They were all staying at one side of the grandstand.”

Badinas said those who did not participate could face sanctions.

“The drill is under Republic Act 9514 or the ‘Fire Code of the Philippines,’” he said. “But the punishment that will be given to them is under the discretion of the University.”

Kim Cyrus David, president of the Red Cross Youth Council, said some students fainted during the drill due to the hot weather and confusion in the evacuation process in certain buildings.

“There were congestions at the Main Building, St. Raymund de Peñafort Building, and the San Martin de Porres Building [during the drill] because there was no proper execution done,” he said.

Students who had to endure the heat got relief later in the day. The second drill, scheduled at 4 p.m. the same day, was cancelled due to sudden heavy rains. R. D. Madrid

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