Safety first -- and 2d, 3d, 4th . . .

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Safety first -- and 2d, 3d, 4th . . .

Even before the Daegu subway fire in February that killed hundreds, Korea was known as “The Accident Republic.”
Indeed, the nation has seen many calamities in transportation, buildings and infrastructure. The infamous collapse of the Seongsu Bridge, the disintegration of Sampoong department store and the disastrous Sealand Camp fire are just a few in a long list of tragedies that have occurred in the past 10 years. In all cases, the verdict of the disasters has been a lack of safety precautionry measures.
In order to raise public awareness of safety measures in times of crisis, the Seoul Metropolitan government’s Fire Department opened the Civil Safety Experience Center early last month on the grounds of the Children’s Grand Park in eastern Seoul’s Gwangjin district.
The center provides opportunities for visitors to learn about over 20 kinds of accident situations and how to escape or prevent them.
This 6,000-square-meter (64,600 square foot), three-story building houses virtual reality equipment that can simulate earthquakes, floods, rescue operations in trapped conditions, fires, medical emergencies and other scenarios.
A 10-person ride allows visitors to get an overview of safety measures in times of accidents through simulations and videos, while a computer game room also gives firsthand exposure to take precautions against fire.
In addition, there are mannequins to learn about CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). A fire-escape drill and an accident prevention library also educate the public about how to prevent or escape accidents.
To take in all the exhibits offered at the Civil Safety Experience Center requires more than an hour.
The center opened in February, just after the Daegu fire. In that short time, the Civil Safety Experience Center has already become an immensely popular field trip, especially for school children.
“So far, we’ve had an average of 600 visitors per day,” says center official Kim Deuk-yeong. “That is much higher than we ever anticipated.”
The Daegu tragedy has reawakened awareness of how vital safety is. And although this center is a welcomed step in the right direction, it is worth noting that this is just the first of its kind in Korea ― Japan has 150 such safety centers, and the United States has up to 50 per state.

by Choi Jie-ho

Entrance is free. For more information, call (02) 2049-4000.
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