Thursday, September 8, 2011

In fair weather, prepare for foul...

"It's not if, it's when."  During my second semester of library school, I took a preservation class where one of our guest lecturers spoke to us about the importance of maintaining a disaster plan and emphasized the need to be prepared for the inevitable.  So when fellow Community Virtual Library volunteer librarian, Valibrarian Gregg, IM'd me to tell me that there would be a live virtual tornado exercise happening today, I immediately dropped what I was doing and rushed over to meet her.

After a quick briefing with the other participants at the Virtual Tornado exhibit on Info Island, Val dropped us a landmark and we all teleported to the simulation site.  Once we settled into the orientation area, the builder of the sim, Freecilla Kuhn, allowed each of us to choose a role to play - victim, police officer, fire fighter, EMS/ambulance driver, or reporter - then carefully walked us through what each of these roles entailed.  

Since it was my first time participating in a live disaster simulation event, I decided to go with the simplest role, victim.  I was given a folder full of animations and accessories which I could use during the event.  These included: "holding head", "blood on face", "laying on side", "waving for help" and the gas mask I'm wearing in the photo above.  

Once we were all comfortable with our accessories and animations, Freecilla led the victims down to the simulation site - which was basically a street lined with shops, a movie theatre, and a cafe - and instructed us to leisurely walk along the sidewalks.   We fanned out and started strolling.  Mere minutes after we began, an enormous black funnel came whipping around the corner. Buildings started collapsing around us so I immediately reached into my inventory, glopped on my fake blood, laid down on the ground, and started moaning.

Meanwhile back at the orientation area, the other participants got into their respective emergency vehicles and sped down to the disaster site.  Firefighters, policemen, and EMS workers canvassed the disaster area, assessing the damage and searching for any hurt bodies.  Still rolling around on the ground and moaning, I waited patiently until a kind EMS worker approached me and helped me onto a stretcher.

When we got to the ambulance, I peered in and saw another victim already inside and, like me, he appeared badly hurt.  Once we were all loaded in, the EMT driver hopped in and raced like a madman up to the hospital (conveniently located next to the orientation area, where we began our adventure).  

When we pulled up to the hospital, Freecilla signaled that we were now free to restore our avis to their normal appearance (aka, sans blood) and return to the disaster site to observe.  I scurried back down to the disaster site and arrived just in time to watch the designated news reporter and camera person wrap up their media coverage of the tornado.

After it was all over, one of the participants and I stuck around to chat for a bit.  Impressed by both the build and the simulation event, we both excitedly discussed our experience and the possibility of librarians, archivists, and other information professionals using this type of event to practice their institution's disaster plans.

Another live simulation event is planned for October 8th at 9am SLT (I somehow got the dates mixed up; the 2nd simulation event was on September 15th.  Apologies for the misinformation.) and all are welcome to participate (simply mark your calendars and teleport to the CVL reference desk on the designated date & time).  Meanwhile, be sure to check out their wonderful exhibit - sponsored by the Texas Library Association SL Group and TRP360 - on Info Island.

~  til our next adventure,

Exhibit at CVL SLURL:

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