Wednesday, November 09, 2005

This is a Test. This is only a Test . . .

Yesterday we had an island-wide test of our emergency procedures. Actually the test started on Monday evening when we went into prep mode. When we were contacted by our warden about this he assured us that they had not hinted there would be any more to the test and that we should just stay home and chill out. During prep mode we would be expected to stay at our site and begin to prepare for an evacuation by securing our house and packing our emergency supplies. Since we thought they were just testing the communication channels we spent Monday night making dinner and watching The Young and the Restless as we would most every evening. Big surprise on Tuesday morning when our warden woke us up at 7:00am telling us we would need to be at our meeting point in Kingston between 10:00am and noon. Luckily we are close so we were able to get all our things together and make it there by 10:00. Lesson learned - we should have had our bags packed and house ready because we might not have had the luxury of so much time to get there. In fact we only forgot two things in our emergency bags - sleeping bags and toilet paper. Good thing it wasn't really an emergency or we would have really been in trouble without the toilet paper. Unfortunately, in the process of packing our stuff and making our list of possessions we were leaving behind we realized that some things have gone missing from our apartment (some jewelry and our camera). But we have realized some ways we can better secure our place to hopefully prevent anyone from entering again. So perhaps this test was a blessing in disguise. As for the test itself we went to our assigned point in Kingston (there is also one in Montego Bay for the volunteers on that side of the island) and were able the hang out with the other volunteers for a while in the nice air conditioned conference room. They even had fruit, muffins, pastries, and sandwiches for us to snack on, plus they provided lunch. Things wouldn't be so nice in an actual emergency but it was a nice treat since they had turned our day upside down. We had debriefing session about how the procedure worked and what could be done better and then we were released to return home. It was nice to practice because it is definitely possible with the weather situation here and occasional civil unrest that at some point in our service we would experience it for real. Other volunteers had to during Hurricane Ivan last year. So we got the test out of the way and now we all know what we need to do better in the future. Plus we got to see all our friends and we didn't have to go to work - so who's complaining?


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