Tokyo Dome Holds 1st Large-Scale Disaster Drill

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Fans are guided out of Tokyo Dome at the end of a large-scale disaster drill held after a baseball game on Wednesday.

It’s between innings when the stadium begins to shake amid a low roar. It’s not the crowd at a Yomiuri Giants game reacting to what’s happening on the field, but what the Earth is doing below it.

An upper-5 level earthquake hitting Tokyo during a pro baseball game was the scenario Wednesday for the first-ever large-scale disaster drill conducted at Tokyo Dome. The drill was held following an actual preseason game for the Giants and included 8,000 fans who bought tickets and applied to stay after and take part.

Tokyo Dome Corp., The Yomiuri Shimbun and the Giants jointly organized the event. It involved the Tokyo Metropolitan fire and police departments, commercial real estate giant Mitsui Fudosan Co. and private security firm Shimizu Octo.

The objective was to prepare emergency and stadium personnel for a number of contingencies in the event of a natural disaster at the crowded stadium, which is also a venue for large concerts.

“It was a large-scale drill and even though many people participated, it came off without any injuries or accidents, which makes me feel it was a success,” said Yasuhiro Ishii of Tokyo Dome Corp., who was the chief organizer of the event.

As for working with the authorities, Ishii said: “We received a lot of advice from the local police and fire departments about holding this drill, and we were able to make it a reality. I think we gained something for the next time.”

The drill included preventing panic among the crowd in the initial stage, putting out any fires that break out, attending to and transporting the injured, and leading an orderly evacuation of the facility.

Thirty minutes after the Giants defeated the Chiba Lotte Marines 6-0 in their preseason game, the event got started with a fire department video on being prepared, protecting oneself and the proper actions to take during and after an earthquake. It specified how the dome is extremely quake-resistant and equipped with ample emergency fire hoses and defibrillators.

“It was very educational,” said Kyoko Fujii of Tokyo’s Nakano Ward, who attended with her husband and 9-year-old son. “Along with the information on earthquakes, it was good to hear about the construction of the dome.”

The drill started in earnest with the Giants’ Giabbit mascot family and Venus team dancers giving a simulated mid-inning performance, only to be interrupted by the shrill whoop of an earthquake warning.

A message appeared on the jumbo scoreboard in both Japanese and English: “We are checking the damage caused by the earthquake. Tokyo Dome withstands earthquakes. Please stay where you are until further guidance is provided.”

All the while, the stadium staff urged the patrons to remain seated and calm.

On the second-floor concourse, a man with an “leg injury” was provided with a wheelchair and taken to a first-aid station set up on the first-floor concourse. Soon after, smoke started pouring out of a nearby hot dog concession stand.

Stadium security personal rushed into action, using one of the 120 fire hoses to extinguish the “blaze” before passing off to arriving firefighters.

The drill ended after about 25 minutes with the spectators being guided in blocks to the exits, amid a cacophony of staff using loudspeakers. It was loud and somewhat chaotic, but that added to the sense of reality.