Know Your Exit(s)

Keeping Calm and Helping Others During a Campus Crisis

By Derek Chartrand Wallace

According to a 2014 report titled “Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast,” scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Southern California Earthquake Center, and the California Geological Survey estimate that the Hayward Fault Zone (which runs beneath such densely populated areas as Berkeley and Oakland) has a 72 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 earthquake or greater in the next 30 years. What should Berkeley City College students, staff and faculty do in the case of such a natural disaster while on campus?

A recent four-alarm fire in the Oakland Hills prompted Merritt College to cancel classes and evacuate as a precaution. Notifications were sent via Peralta Community College District’s system of SMS texts, voicemails and emails, so any disaster would result in similar alerts here at BCC. Additionally, runners, bullhorns, building fire alarms and flashing lights for hearing impaired or deaf persons would be utilized.

“Emergency Procedures” are posted on all levels of the building and The BCC Voice encourages you to familiarize yourself with them. You can even snap a photo with your phone so you have the procedures on you at all times. These guidelines also cover many other emergencies, such as fire, hazardous materials release, explosions, active shooters, civil disturbance such as demonstrations, and bomb threats.

Most quakes only last from a few seconds to a few minutes, but can have severe aftershocks occurring minutes, hours, even days later. Until initial tremors have subsided, duck to the floor, cover yourself with a sturdy piece of furniture, stay away from hazards such as broken windows or exposed wires, and avoid running outside. It is then time to evaluate the situation and call 911, if possible, to report any emergency help that may be needed for those injured or missing. Turn off any dangerous equipment such as gas and electrical appliances, but if you smell a gas leak, it is of utmost importance to stop everything and vacate the building. Walk, do not run, and avoid pushing or shoving while keeping noise to a minimum so you can hear emergency instructions.

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Exits are located near the Security Desk at the main entrance and by both first floor stairwells leading to street-level. Photo Credit: Rich Cross

The elderly, children, and persons with disabilities or other special needs should be given high priority in an evacuation. You can help the visually impaired by explaining the nature of the emergency as alarms and confusion may disorient them, even if they are familiar with the area. Ask if you can guide them or provide someone who can, allowing them to take your bended arm at the elbow so they can follow your lead. Tell them where you are going as you walk, advising of any obstacles in their path, and orient them to where they are upon reaching safety. Ask if any further assistance is needed before leaving.

Hearing impaired persons may need to have their attention gained via the use of flashlights, arm waving, shoulder-tapping, gesturing, or writing out the nature of the emergency. Those with mobility impairments should always be asked first if they have special needs or equipment, and unless the situation is imminently life-threatening, call the Building Monitor, Berkeley Police Department, at 510-981-5900 or Programs & Services for Students with Disabilities at 510-981-2812. Emergency wheelchairs are located on the fourth floor, Room 460.

Once outdoors, staying 300–500 feet away from the building is crucial in case of structural damage or downed utility poles. Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Center Street is designated as an Emergency Assembly Area where BCC faculty and staff can help account for students or visitors, and notify the Building Monitor, Supervisor, or Incident Commander (IC) of absentees. The IC will coordinate an “all clear” sign to Building Monitors once it has been determined safe to do so.

Disaster response supplies are located in all three buildings (2050 Center Street, 2000 Center Street, and 2070 Allston Way). Automated Electronic Defibrillators are found on the first floor in Room 141 (Business Office), on the fourth floor wall between Rooms 454 and 455, and in the fifth floor faculty suite across from Room 541 (in the cabinet above the microwave). Oxygen is also on the fourth floor wall between Rooms 454 and 455. Flashlights are attached to first aid kits, which are at Front Desk Security, the second floor staff kitchen (Room 245), the third floor Teacher’s Learning Center (Room 341c), on the fourth floor across from Room 458, and the fifth floor copy room (561) and Science Lab (Room 522). 2070 Allston Way also has first aid kits on the second floor in Room 204.

The Great California ShakeOut is an annual preparedness drill held each October in California, first organized by The Earthquake Country Alliance in 2008 and now joined by millions around the world. In concordance, mandatory evacuation drills were scheduled at Berkeley City College on Monday, Oct. 16 and Friday, Oct. 20 to help spread awareness, inspire confidence, and enhance coolness under pressure. BCC Voice readers can participate in the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills by registering on their website,

For more info, contact Shirley Slaughter, campus point for emergency preparedness training at 510-981-2840.



Berkeley City College Students participated in a successful evacuation drill Monday, Oct. 16 2017.

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