Earthquake Disaster Preparedness Plan For UC Riverside

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and tornados can strike at almost any time somewhere around the globe. Flash floods, for instance are most likely to hit the Riverside area. Of all potentially destructive natural disasters, however, earthquakes top the list. The Riverside area is home to three active fault lines, the San Jacinto, the Elsinore, and the San Andreas, the latter of which runs just five miles to the north of the UC Riverside campus (Zhu 1). With over 20,000 students and 2,500 staff, UCR should be concerned with a potentially devastating quake in the realm of an 8.

3 magnitude hitting along the San Andreas fault.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, this could mean that in Southern California, ‘more than 25,000 persons would be killed and as many as 100,000 seriously injured” (Schultz 440). While UCR should have a multitude of plans in place for such a possibility, two of the most important are the creation of makeshift ’emergency field hospitals’ staffed by knowledgeable student-faculty volunteers, and the installation of a campus helipad capable of serving twin-engine helicopters.

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Facilitating such a plan requires a trained supervisor in the UCR administration office to encourage staff and students to get engaged and volunteer to become part of a civilian-trained first response team. This supervisor would oversee a search and rescue (SAR) team prepared to search all buildings for survivors, and then lift automobiles, trees, slabs of concrete or whatever else is needed to be removed quickly as there is a high probability of aftershocks (Fiedrich 41). Once rescued, however, urgent medical care is needed, which means setting up emergency field hospitals (Fiedrich 44).

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The administration supervisor would appoint staff from the UCR School of Medicine–which fortunately is located on campus–to train volunteers in CPR, Basic Life Support (BLS), and Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) training for sudden cardiac arrest. This training can also be provided by First Aid classes taught at the American Red Cross office in Riverside (‘First Aid Classes & Training in Riverside, CA.’). This administration-appointed supervisor would also be responsible for determining what medical supplies and other equipment could be stored in at least five safe and easily accessible locations around the campus. Should such an earthquake hit, the first six hours are most crucial for the survival of the injured, and ‘outside medical assistance usually arrives too late for immediate care,” (Schultz 441). Thus, a civilian-trained volunteer group capable of setting up multiple field hospitals is the most logical way to mitigate a potential disaster. Field hospitals should be easily erected to maximize their effectiveness. ‘Tents are the most common structure used for natural disasters” (Manoochehry).

The injured would be offered some relief with care the civilian team can provide, though it is hoped that staff from the School of Medicine will be there to supervise and assist. ‘An organized command-and-control structure known as the incident command system,” (Schultz 441) should also be put in place with the administrative supervisor serving as the commander if able to do so. “These medical care units are used to save lives after striking of a crisis to a community or to temporarily take care of casualties on-site before they can be safely transported to more permanent hospital facilities” (Manoochehry). Thus, getting patients to another location quickly is of paramount importance. Transporting the injured to hospitals in safer locations is also part of this Disaster Preparedness Plan. The construction of a helipad on campus is the logical solution. Currently, none exists at UCR. Helipads are merely the platform that can serve as the point for helicopters to land and take off. While many helipads are located atop buildings such as on hospital rooftops, this one should be built on the ground, ideally somewhere in the southeast region of the UC Riverside campus where there is adequate open space but still close to the main structures.

The construction of a helipad must be planned in accordance with FAA regulations so it can be accessed and utilized at any moment. Basic dimensions capable of accommodating twin-engine helicopters would be essential for such a plan to work. Rescue helicopters vary in size, but many used for these purposes have a fuselage of 56 feet long with a rotor diameter of 56 feet. Such helicopters could transport injured students and faculty to safer locations for medical treatment, as well as to bring in medical supplies, food, and emergency personnel such as paramedics, onto the campus. Helipads must be built on a flat, solid surface and would require dimensions of at least 109 feet X 109 feet to work adequately (United States Department of Transportation). Without a helipad, there are no guarantees how quickly anyone can reach the main campus, or more importantly, how likely the injured could be transported to a hospital for expert care. To many critics, these plans might appear to be ‘overkill’ or resemble dystopian television in which a small community is cut off from all outside help. Many will doubt that large, urbanized communities that meet strict building and safety codes such as those in Riverside, would ever require such drastic measures.

They might argue that such precautions are only necessary for far-off places like Indonesia or Nicaragua, where earthquakes have destroyed villages and killed thousands. Other skeptics might suggest that this plan is does not offer enough assistance should this quake be as devastating that it could do the damage that would necessitate a civilian-response team. They could argue that such a civilian-operated assistance program would be incapable of offering the help needed, and that paramedics and other professional rescue teams might not be available for several days. Certainly, both concerns are credible. There is no telling how cataclysmic such an event might be and how easily professional responders such as paramedics and firemen can assist UC Riverside students and faculty if they are already busy providing assistance to other victims scattered all over parts of Southern California. If this hypothetical earthquake is far beyond the scope of anything possibly hitting UCR, then the university at least has a new helipad that can be used for other, non-emergency purposes such as transporting dignitaries, or supplies when freeways are not viable alternatives.

In addition, the medical training for many students and faculty can always be useful in emergencies of other types. If the devastation is so severe that the emergency teams are underprepared, then at least it can offer better assistance to many injured, even if it cannot save everyone. Whether this might be regarded as overkill or under preparedness, these plans make our campus a safer place to be should The Big One hit. No one wants a catastrophe of any type to occur, but sometimes they do. Wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes are natural disasters that can strike all around the globe. Once they hit, it is too late to plan ahead. At UC Riverside, there will always be the possibility of a severe earthquake hitting the campus. There will also be the possibility of students and faculty being trapped in remote locations or requiring emergency assistance. As students at UCR, we need to be prepared for all such possibilities. We need a civilian-trained team prepared for assisting in rescuing the injured and then treating their injuries. We also need a helipad for bringing in emergency equipment and medical supplies as well as to transport injured patients to hospitals for treatment. These are relatively easy to put in place and they will make us all a lot safer.

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Earthquake Disaster Preparedness Plan For UC Riverside. (2021, Dec 20). Retrieved from

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