Van Beek: Evacuating the galaxy |

Van Beek: Evacuating the galaxy

Evacuation and shelter-in-place orders have been around since the beginning of the first millennium. As we will see below, the process is the same, just the names change.

The call went out to all starships in the Alderaanian fleet; danger was near.  The reverse 911 call issues recorded messages to those within defined zones during emergencies. The directions given depend on the speed and severity of the threat.  In this case, the entire ship vibrated with an all-too-familiar force; the dark side was near.

We all knew the drill.  We must return to quarters and shelter in place while awaiting further orders. We would be given an all-clear or an evacuation order, depending on changing circumstances within that part of the galaxy. 

Any threat could suddenly emerge … a dangerous flight condition (weather), a fire on board, a chemical leak, a renegade shooter, or other potential perils. This was a large starship and when something went wrong, it could quickly spread to all. We could not even visit with our friends until the situation had been thoroughly investigated, and we could only leave for critical needs like food or medical supplies. These shelter-in-place orders were generally short but could extend much longer; we had to prepare for the next stage.

As Master Yoda would say, “Difficult to see; always in motion is the future,” and “train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

We had small escape modules available for those who needed to take advantage of our voluntary evacuation protocols. They were used by those who might not be able to depart suddenly due to medical issues or functional needs, which required specialized equipment or unique access for safe evacuation. 

Things began to worsen. We always understood the dangers of living on a starship, yet the idea of leaving our home, possibly forever, still caused deep fear. Our hearts raced as we could sense the danger coming closer. 

We began pre-evacuation procedures. Our hearts raced as we prepared, knowing that we might only have minutes, to gather our most precious possessions. Fortunately, we knew to place a list of what was needed and where to quickly find them. We also maintained a go-bag (with essentials, as listed on our Alliance website: for just such emergencies.

As time went on, the uncertainty of our outcome had everyone on edge. These orders were familiar but uncommon, and they always involved issues that could easily become fatal. Suddenly, the ship lost all power. Utilities were off and the ship was being drawn in towards a very dark place. We had all heard of it, some even studied it, but none of us had ever encountered the dark side of the Death Star. 

A mandatory evacuation order was issued; danger was imminent. To maintain the integrity of the operation, the order could only emanate from the highest sources in the galaxy … our security offices run by a leader, elected to keep our galaxy safe. He often quoted his mentor, Yoda … “Grand Master of Jedi Order am I. Won this job in a raffle I did, think you? Master Yoda knows these things. His job it is.” 

We had to depart immediately, leaving everything behind except what we could carry.  We still had auxiliary power to our evacuation ships. R2-D2, who is the backup computer for our spaceships, was busy reprogramming the escape modules. C-3PO, fluent in over six million forms of communication, assisted in translation, customs, and evacuation etiquette, as he guided everyone towards the escape hatch. But some of us didn’t make it. 

Oh, how we wished for Han Solo to appear with his legendary Millennium Falcon, the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, which made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs! 

It was too late. Everything went quiet. The ship had come to an abrupt stop.  All we could hear over the intercom was a frightening, deep, vibrating sound… da-da-da, dadada-dadada. 

A cloud of darkness engulfed the starship as we heard Darth Vadar (aka Coronavirus) approach Princess Leia and say, “Only you could be so bold.” Fear spread across the cabin as we dreamed of a Jedi knight (vaccine) rescuing us all. Princess Leia could be heard responding, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi (fill in the blank), you’re my only hope”.

As we scrambled to seek an escape, experiencing flashes of the beauty of our earlier lives, we suddenly recalled with amusement, a young kid we met on Tatooine, Luke Skywalker, who desperately wanted to join the Rebellion. He said, “If there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.” Precisely our thoughts, as we attempted to evacuate. 

We have had some fun describing the process of various levels of securing our community during times of emergency. Shelter-in-place and evacuation orders are not made lightly. We work with various agencies to assure everyone’s safety. Sometimes it involves moving people, other times, keeping them securely in place.

While we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the extent to which our safety precautions will be needed or even the direction the threat will take, rest assured that we have the most advanced technical equipment and experienced specialists to help you through times of crisis. 

Please call 911 if you ever feel threatened … we will be there! In the meantime, may the force be with you! 

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