Frequent escape drills saved elderly at Japanese nursing home in the path of tsunami

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Highlighting the need for emergency planning, a nursing home in Japan credits regular evacuation drills with saving its residents.

The facility sits 200 meters from the ocean in the town of Minamihama. Staff members led emergency drills so regularly that they lowered the time needed for evacuation from 20 to 5 minutes within three years. Those minutes proved crucial when the earthquake and subsequent tsunami shook Japan on March 11. All residents and employees survived.

The four annual drills involved staff wrapping residents in blankets and moving them to higher ground, while staff were assigned to help specific seniors.

"If it had taken us 20 minutes to escape this time, we wouldn't have made it. For those of us in coastal areas, it is important to constantly maintain a sense of impending danger, and to engage in community-wide emergency drills," facility supervisor Toshie Inoue told the Mainichi Daily.

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