by Xinhua writers Wu Chen, Yi Ling and Xu Xiaoqing
SHANGHAI, April 28 (Xinhua) -- After nearly eight years of preparation and six rounds of trial operation, Shanghai is ready for the 184-day World Exposition which opens May 1.
Some 189 countries and 57 international organizations have confirmed their participation in the largest-ever expo which is expected to attract more than 70 million visitors from all over the world.
During the expo trial, more than one million people savored the charms of the marvelous pavilions at the World Expo site.
Yang Xiong, executive vice mayor of Shanghai, said Wednesday, through the expo trial, the organizers gained experience, found problems and made adjustments.
"We examined facilities, improved systems, trained staff and improved services thanks to the trial rounds," he said.
VOLUNTEERS: AT YOUR SERVICE
Li Lun, a volunteer on the Expo Axis, will serve for the first two weeks of the expo. His voice has gone hoarse after three days of testing operation.
"During the peak hours in the morning and at noon, we were asked questions almost every 10 seconds," said Li, a postgraduate student at Shanghai-based Fudan University. "Some of my schoolmates have lost their voice."
The 24-year-old has done voluntary work before, but it's the first time for such a big event.
"Every day after work, our team leader asked us what the most frequently-asked questions were and what the best answers are," he said.
Li is making use of the last few days before the expo officially opens to learn about the event as much as possible to be better prepared.
Shanghai has more than 72,000 volunteers at the 5.28-square-kilometer World Expo site, while another 100,000 volunteers work at the service stations in the city's 18 districts and counties.
Xia Kejia, director of the Expo site volunteer department, said more than 9,000 Expo site volunteers were trained during the trial operations.
Due to inadequate on-site practice and communication issues between organizers and volunteers, problems surfaced.
Visitors complained there were not enough volunteers, and that some volunteers were not familiar with the site and failed to answer visitors' questions, Xia said.
Xia said measures have been taken to improve the situation, including increasing the number of volunteers by 20 percent and sending volunteers the latest information by text message.
"We're trying our best to avoid saying 'I don't know' to visitors," Xia said.
Tang Xiaoting, a teacher at Shanghai Maritime University, did reception work for the International Exhibitions Bureau in 2002 as a high school student and also served at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
As a "veteran" volunteer, Tang said though the volunteer's work is usually simple and trivial, young people need to improve their patience and time management and communication capabilities.
"So, we also have to get prepared psychologically and serve the expo with a proper attitude," said the 27-year-old.
Li Lun agreed. "We should be prepared for hard work and complaints," he said.
MEDICAL SERVICE: DETAILED PLANS FOR SAVING LIVES
Shanghai health authorities have made a thorough plan for medical service for expo visitors and staff. Each of the five sections of the expo site has a medical station. Each is equipped with one medical patrol vehicle, ambulances, first-aid facilities and medicine for common diseases.
Eight hospitals near the expo site have been designated as medical service providers with 33 clinics also supporting.
Experienced doctors and nurses have been selected to work at the expo site and several exercises were held before the trial rounds to have the medical staff prepared for emergencies.
Punan Hospital, which is no more than 15 minutes walk from the expo site, is a "zero-distance" hospital for the World Expo. The hospital has made preparations for the expo even though it is not a designated hospital for the event.
Liu Weidong, President of Punan Hospital, said heatstroke and cardiac arrest easily occur during summer, especially affecting the old and the weak. A single person is easy to deal with, he said. The big challenge is dealing with large-scale emergencies like stampedes, food poisoning and terrorist attacks.
He said the hospital has prepared 30 empty beds for the expo. The hospital has also trained more than 3,000 expo security staff and residents in nearby communities in first-aid.
"A patient won't collapse near a doctor. Therefore, the more people who know about first-aid the bigger the chance patients will survive," Liu said.
He also advised expo visitors to plan their trip inside the site after considering their physical condition. He also recommended visitors take rests and drink water, especially during hot weather.
Organizers have increased the number of wheelchairs, benches and sunshades at the site for tired expo visitors.
FOOD: STRICT CHECKS TO ENSURE SAFETY
All the food suppliers for the expo were chosen after public bidding, strict evaluation and intensive food safety training, according to the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration.
Three quick testing laboratories have been established inside the expo site to test food samples.
Now, with only three days left for the expo, safety checks for vegetables at the site have also been enhanced.
"Besides safety examination by vegetable producers, we have begun another round of safety checks to ensure vegetables at the world expo park are safe and fresh," said Chen Jun, director of the quality management office at Shanghai Jiangqiao vegetable wholesale market, the sole vegetable supplier for the world expo park restaurants.
It's estimated expo visitors and staff will consume at least 200 tonnes of vegetables every day.
The market has signed contracts with 40 vegetable farms across China, said Chen.
"The vegetables are organic and pollution-free. Cauliflower, tomato, pepper, cabbage, potato and green leaf vegetables were in demand during the trial operations and we have increased orders for them by 20 percent," he said.
SECURITY: MEASURES IN PLACE
Yang Xiong said Wednesday keeping the city safe is the top priority for the Shanghai government and armed police will be deployed to maintain order when necessary.
"Security is a big challenge for us as the expo. There will be a larger number of visitors over a longer period of time than the Beijing Olympics, and the expo site is larger than the Olympic venues' area," said Yang.
An increasing number of police wagons are patrolling downtown areas. Tube stations are conducting more baggage checks and guards have been stationed on all buses of the 42 Expo routes and at thousands of bus stops.
Shanghai has employed thousands of guards for the expo site and visitors will have to pass through airport-style safety check before getting being allowed to enter the park.
"The guards will maintain order. But when the flow of visitors is extremely large, the police police will be of help," said Yang.
"We are considering new new safety checks to protect visitors while minimizing disturbance," he said.
Vicente Gonzales Loscertales, Secretary-General International Exhibition Bureau (BIE) said, "The expo is like a very sensitive machine, you need to adjust the machine very very often in order for it to run smoothly."