Shaare Zedek Prepares for Major Earthquake Drill

Ahead of a major earthquake preparedness drill scheduled for June 20th, the entire staff of Shaare Zedek Medical Center underwent a pre-drill training briefing to familiarize them with the relevant protocols for earthquake disaster response. According to many experts, a major earthquake strikes the Jerusalem area (which sits on a key fault line), about once every 100 years and the region has not seen such a quake in more than a century. As such, many say it’s just a question of time before “the big one” hits.

It is also well known that Jerusalem over the past 100 years has undergone a massive urbanization, with rapid construction, much of which does not conform to basic codes to withstand tremors. Based on estimates of the IDF’s Homefront Command, a major earthquake of between 6 and 7 on the Richter Scale, could result in over 7,000 dead and tens of thousands of others injured in the immediate Jerusalem area. Over 170,000 people could need to be evacuated from their homes as a result of the quake.
Sara Goldberg, who supervises the hospital’s Disaster Management program organized the briefing saying, “our goal is to ensure that every single hospital worker knows where to be in the event of an earthquake and the more that we can do to prepare in advance, the better the chances we will have of reducing the loss of life.”
Arik Feuer, Director of Safety and Security at Shaare Zedek who is charged with planning for the June 20th drill, acknowledged that there is no way to anticipate what exactly will occur when a quake hits “but the objective of all preparation is to limit those levels of uncertainty. We know that there will be major chaos but we need to do everything we can to make sure people are best informed and trained.”
Shaare Zedek’s location tucked into the face of a mountain is believed to make it better protected in the event of a major tremor and the lower floors could be better protected. The original building, completed in 1978, was constructed without the most up to date building codes in mind, but subsequent construction including the Next Generation Building, has been designed and reinforced to be able to withstand a significant quake.
The June 20th drill will test the staff’s ability to quickly and effectively evacuate medical departments and set up a triage field hospital on the medical center campus.



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