Rashpal Basi

Earthquake simulator preps hospital workers for the big one

Victoria General Hospital hosts machine this Friday in View Royal

Staff at the Island Health’s Royal Jubilee Hospital were shaken up Monday – but in a good way.

In an effort to prepare health-care workers and the public for “the big one,” the hospital hosted the Shake Zone, a portable earthquake simulator that replicates the feelings of an earthquake up to an 8.0 magnitude. The simulator is currently being showcased at B.C. hospitals by the Insurance Bureau of Canada and Health Emergency Management B.C.

It arrives at Victoria General Hospital this Friday morning.

“We’ve really made it a priority to better prepare British Columbians for the earthquake risk that we face,” said IBC spokesperson Aaron Sutherland. “The science tells us there’s a 30 per cent chance of a significant earthquake striking right here in southwestern B.C., and we feel that’s a topic that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.”

HEMBC director Gerry Delorme said the simulator has been an eye-opener for those who’ve used it, and having it onsite gives hospital staff an opportunity to prepare their families for the big one so that they may help others in the same event.

“Health care is very busy day to day and we’re going to have to continue doing all of those things during an emergency, plus we’re going to have to expect for casualties,” said Delorme. “We would implement what’s called Code Orange, which is mass casualty/disaster. We would expand our ability to triage, to treat and to move people within the facility.”

Sutherland said the December earthquake in Sidney, which registered a 4.7 on the Richter scale, was a “minor tremor” compared to the devastation an 8.0-magnitude quake could cause.

“We have a bit of a culture of apathy here – because we don’t have any historical memory of a major event like that, we just think it’s not going to happen when the science tells us it’s actually the opposite,” he said.

“It really highlights the importance of having a family plan, having food and water for a minimum of 72 hours, having that emergency kit.”

Additionally, from a financial standpoint, Sutherland said it’s important to check if your house is insured in the case of an earthquake. He noted earthquake insurance is typically separate from most home insurance policies.

“We feel it’s important to have a conversation with your insurance representative to ensure you’re protected,” said Sutherland. “You can never be as prepared as you might like.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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