MANILA — The third floor of the Senate building had completely collapsed. Teams of firefighters and rescue personnel rushed to reach and save stranded employees on the fourth and fifth floors. Hundreds of other personnel who rushed out of the building were evacuated by ambulances and buses.
This was the scenario played by officials and employees of the Philippine Senate led by Senate Secretary Oscar Yabes during the Wednesday’s 2nd Metro Manila Shake Drill and 2nd Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill.
“We are participating in the MMDA’s 2nd metrowide shake drill which anticipates a 7.2 magnitude quake hitting the metropolis. We are holding this practice so employees will know what to do and where to go in case of an earthquake,” Yabes said.
During the drill, employees poured out of the building assisted by policemen and security personnel. Employees “stranded” on the fourth and fifth levels were assisted by personnel of the Office of the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms and the police to the helipad where they awaited rescue.
Senate employees and officials who reached the ground showed readiness to move out to an evacuation center set up by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in Villamor Airbase, Pasay City.
“I am more than satisfied with the outcome. Our employees are now more familiar with what to expect in case a big quake will hit us. We also had personnel from the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fire Protection participating in the event. Aside from this drill we have regular fire drills so I would say that we are familiar with the routine by now,” Yabes said.
Yabes gave a lecture on the dos and don’ts during an earthquake, instructing employees to stay away from glass windows and looking for shelter under tables in case of falling debris.
“We have two helipads where you can go and await rescue. We have ambulances and buses on the ground to transport you to evacuation centers. Our medics will be here to treat injuries,” he told employees.
Employees returned to work after the exercise was over, which lasted around an hour.
The MMDA coordinated with government agencies and members of the private sector for the drill. Under the improved disaster assessment plan named Oplan Metro Yakal Plus, the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal will also be tapped to conduct similar drills and help victims of natural disasters.
“Hopefully, the second quake drill would pave the way for the institutionalization of the shake drill,” MMDA Chairman Emerson Carlos said. PNA/northboundasia.com