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Earthquake drill throws curve balls for Rowan residents

A large earthquake has struck lasting 45 seconds. Glass doors have shattered, the veranda has crumbled and there’s a gas leak!

This was the scenario Rowan residents were confronted with during a surprise emergency drill recently.

Rowan is part of Presbyterian Support East Coast's Enliven Disability Service, providing flatting facilities for 22 disabled people with 24-hour staff support.

Rowan Service Manager, Diana MacDonald, says the drill was vital for residents and staff to become familiar with emergency plans in case a real disaster occurred.

“We’ve done lots of fire drills in the past and they have become well-prepared for a fire evacuation. In an earthquake, however, there are many more factors to consider,” Diana says.

“Many of our residents are in wheelchairs and are unable to ‘drop’ during an earthquake, so they practiced the ‘cover’ and ‘hold’ components. Wheelchair access to the assembly point is also a major issue during an emergency so significant broken glass in the scenario created further challenges to the drill.  

“The residents who live in the four bedroom units on the premises had to think about where to turn the gas off and locating their Grab Bags quickly after the shaking had stopped.”

Diana says huge responsibility is placed on care support workers and nurses during an emergency, “not only do they have to consider themselves and their family, but also ultimately they are the primary carers of our residents too.

“They have to consider the fact they maybe on their own for three days or more and thus ensure medications, food, water and shelter alongside essential equipment are catered for.

“The drill was extremely beneficial and thought-provoking for all involved. We’ll definitely be having another one soon so we can all get more familiar with our plans.”