In all the campuses of UP in the country, designated open spaces were filled with people rushing out of buildings in a “duck, cover, and hold” scenario shortly after alarms sounded at 2:15 PM, February 21, 2019. A large magnitude earthquake had supposedly just struck.
In UP Diliman, a communications center was organized under a tent on the basketball court of the UP Diliman Police headquarters. Two tables, chairs, and a white board were immediately set up; while a group of officers posted themselves on site with two-way radios. Soon, they were receiving radio reports from more than 250 deployed SSB (Special Services Brigade) operatives, security guards, and other police officers, whose jobs required them to be equipped with the communications device. On the white board, the receiving officers tallied reports on the number of “evacuees” and “casualties” in what is called a command post exercise for communications. On that day, it reported around 11,000 drill participants from more than 70 buildings on the Diliman campus.
In the UP Vanguard headquarters on the same campus, a contingent from the Campus Maintenance Office simulated a road blockage scenario. Several buildings simulated medical emergency response situations. Personnel from the UP Diliman Health Service responded in Melchor Hall.
Similar drills were performed in the rest of the UP System.
UP thus joined the Nationwide Simultaneous Earthquake Drill led by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD). In UP Diliman, the drill was led by Chief Security Office (CSO) John Baroña.
Preparedness was reinforced by checklists, guides, and other reference materials provided to each participant unit by the UP Resilience Institute led by Dr. Mahar Lagmay. Using these materials, the institute coordinated the NSEDs in the UP System and would assess the preparedness of the UP System for disaster scenarios based on reports from the constituent universities.
Earlier, the Office of the UP President, represented by Executive Vice President Teodoro Herbosa, enjoined all constituent universities and the Philippine General Hospital to conduct the drill to simulate response to a large-magnitude earthquake. They were encouraged to conduct activities such as the sounding of an alarm, “duck, cover, and hold” exercises, evacuation and assembly in designated areas, reporting via Incident Command System, and other similar simulations.