QCOSTARICA – “I came for some (medical) tests and I’m sitting here, waiting for the start of the simulation,” Doña Eugenia Bremes, 76 years old, a resident of Los Guido (Desamparados) and who haS never before seen a drill of the like, told the television cameras.
“I came in to this bank (the Banco de Costa Rica central branch) and at 10 sharp the drill began”, said Doña Eugenia.
For authorities all went smoothly. The simulation of a 6.0 earthquake striking downtown San Jose and the evacuation of a number of downtown buildings was a total success. People moved out of buildings calmly, past the dangers like a smoke and people (acting) to be injured or suffering a medical problem, as if nothing was happening.
For people like Doña Eugenia, the calmness meant that “simulations” don’t work, it was expected, there was no element of surprise. “In a serious earthquake people do not act as relaxed,” said a man who did not identify himself.
In the case of the BCR bank, the entire building was evacuated in less six minutes and fifteen seconds, a very acceptable time according to authorities.
Similar evacuations occurred in various parts of downtown San Jose, most notable in the area surrounding the Plaza de la Democracia, diagonal to the Legislative Assembly building and the Plaza de la Garantias Sociales, the small park at the south side of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) building.
At the CCSS building, some 6,000 people between employees and visitors, were evacuated in nine minutes flat, according to the Cueropo de Bomberos (Fire Department) who was in charge of keeping time on the evacuations.
“This should be done during non-working days,” Juan José Durán told Ameliarueda.com, disturbed by the time lost during the closing of the Caja offices, having taken the time off work to run an errand.
Nearby, at the Registro Civil (Civil Registry), where some 2,500 people between employees and visitors, was evacuated quickly and with order.
Although the simulation did anticipate road closures, the movement of thousands of people out of the buildings and to the streets and parks, forced last-minute closures, temporarily affecting traffic flow in the downtown core.
The simulation that affected an estimated 60,000 people was organized by the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE) – national emergency commission and the Municipalidad de San José.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of such an exercise can only be known in the case of a real emergency.
Photos from several sources, including: Bomberso de Costa Rica, CNE, Ameliareuda.com, Nacion.com and Facebook.