Volunteer victims add punch to simulated campus emergency

Members of the Berkeley campus community pitched in to make more realistic Thursday’s campuswide emergency preparedness drill. In the parking lot outside the Tang Health Center, in preparation for the exercise, experienced injury makeup artists attached pre-made gelatin “wounds” to volunteer victims of an (also simulated) earthquake.

Volunteers’ injuries ranged from minor wounds they misperceived as major to a mortal abdominal gash. Daryl Wang, who just completed his freshman year, had the bad luck of drawing, from the possible injuries, a severed arm. But he considered himself better off than political science student Isaac Jackson, who was to expire from heart attack, and grad student Alan Weissenbacher, who said he was scripted to arrive at the Tang Center “pale, unresponsive, unable to breathe — until I die.”

Genessa Trietsch, studying social welfare and public health, had ash on her face and a large doll in her arms. “I took my baby to class today, and I have a three-year old, in campus child care, who I’m very worried about,” she said, while trying to calm faux baby Susan. Others got scrapes and burns — all administered by makeup artists from the Rural Northern California Simulation Center, based in Chico.

The emergency drill is an annual exercise, organized by the UC Berkeley’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, to help the campus respond to an actual major emergency. The scenario for “Vigilance 2010” involved a magnitude 5.5 earthquake on the Hayward Fault leading to a biohazard leak on campus. Scores of staff, students and administrators assumed roles in the three-hour exercise — everything from inspecting buildings to communicating with the public and caring for the freaked out and the injured.