Intermediate English Audio Blog 007 - A Disaster Preparedness Drill
A Disaster Preparedness Drill
Last week, I had to go to work earlier than usual. I didn't have any extra classes or meetings. But, I had to participate in a disaster preparedness drill. In my experience, drills for emergency situations are somewhat informal and small-scale. But surprisingly, this drill was quite large-scale and full of unique experiences for me.
As an American, I gave the emergency response workers the unique challenge of trying to communicate with a foreigner in an emergency situation. So, my manager told me that I needed to pretend that I didn't speak Japanese, which is difficult sometimes. I was given an orange vest and a chest plate that described my injuries and my other conditions.
We met on the second floor of my building and went to various random locations. The emergency responders had to search the building for wounded people, like my co-workers and I. While we sat waiting to be found, a message played over the building speakers to warn shoppers and other employees that it was just a drill and not a real disaster.
The responder that found me didn't notice that I was a foreigner until I said, "I don't speak Japanese." He used body language to tell me to hold onto his shoulders. He lifted me up, and brought me to a blue tarp with the other injured people.
There, I got to watch the firemen coordinate and struggle with their communication challenges. The layout of the building seemed a bit confusing, and the non-professionals hadn't used some of the stretchers. There were many kinds, so it seemed confusing. Unfortunately, one of my students, who is a firefighters, wasn't present to help the foreigners.
We were transported to the first floor by stretcher. I stared up at the atrium of the building while they moved me downstairs. Being carried by strangers made me nervous. I felt like I could fall and get injured at any time. I can't imagine actually being in a disaster. It must be terrible.
On the first floor, we waited on a cold tarp next to the main exit. Just sitting and waiting in the cold must have been much much worse during the Great Earthquake of 2011, which took place here and in Miyagi prefecture.
What happened next surprised me. I was put onto another stretcher and carried outside. I was blinded by the white, overcast sky and carried across the intersection while watching helicopters fly closely overhead. I thought I must have been dreaming.
Next, I was carried into one of many red, inflated medical tents. There, I was given fake medical treatment, two wool blankets, and had to tell many people that "I didn't speak Japanese." Each time, the responder was shocked and searched for the English they learned in high school. Somehow we managed, but they certainly need some basic English training.
And then, suddenly, the drill was over and they said I could go. It was over before I knew it!
It was a very eye-opening experience! But to be honest, I hope I never have to do it again!
Hi, everyone! Remember to write your questions in the comments area. Thank you!