LOS ANGELES – With more than 10 million Californians, including students, faculty and staff at the University of Southern California (USC) and more than 21 million people worldwide taking part in “Drop, Cover and Hold On” drills as well as other activities to commemorate this year’s Great ShakeOut, members of the university’s Campus Emergency Response Team (CERT) were testing their ability to respond to a major earthquake or another disaster.
As part of their mock response, CERT members conducted search and rescue operations, lifting debris and extricating trapped victims; triaging and treating injured persons covered in moulage; and testing communications and other response systems.
A press conference held in conjunction with the drill served as platform for emergency officials to stress the importance of preparing to survive and recover from a major earthquake.
“The foundation for preparedness, readiness and resilience in the City of Los Angeles starts with the individual, and each individual can ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On,” so if each individual does that and it multiplies and multiplies, then we have a safer, more resilient Los Angeles in the times of an earthquake,” said Jim Featherstone, general manager of the City of Los Angeles’s emergency management department,. “The other thing is that we ask people to be prepared for the earthquake. That’s our maximum of maximums. If we’re prepared for an earthquake here in Los Angeles, we’re pretty much prepared for the other things that may befall this great city.”
Cal OES Southern Regional Administrator Mona Bontty noted that Cal OES has been working with its local, federal and nongovernmental partners to apply lessons from past emergencies into preparations for future emergencies, but that everyone has a role in the preparedness effort.
”It is critical that we all know what to do when a disaster occurs by practicing the safety actions for emergencies and that may be by developing and practicing emergency plans with your children, the elderly, with your families, with your co-workers and seniors and those with access and functional needs,” she said.
She cited the identification and elimination of hazards, the stockpiling of supplies and the ability to listen to and follow the instructions of authorities following an earthquake or another emergency among the additional keys to survival.
Jared Barrios, American Red Cross Los Angeles Region Chief Executive Officer, stressed the importance of educating the public about how to take care of their families after the ground shakes as well as what to do during an earthquake.
Barrios urged emergency officials to increase outreach toward communities that may not be as engaged as others in the preparedness effort
“We also want to remind you that those of us who have the information to recognize that the information does not get shared equally and (that) action and preparation does not exist equally across our amazing city. Things like your income dictate your ability to prepare, let you have enough money to put stuff in that earthquake kit,” he said. “Things like immigration status or renter status dictate how isolated or how connected you are to community, so focusing our efforts on our most vulnerable communities and recommitting our efforts to help them prepare is a way, which as a city, we will make sure all of us, including our most vulnerable citizens, will be prepared and able to survive the great earthquake when it comes.”
“We think a lot about our responsibility, our responsibility to take on the big problems of the world, our responsibility to do the research and scholarship, but more than that, to translate that research and scholarship into action and global impact,” said USC Provost Michael Quick.
He noted that USC serves as home base to the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), which is composed of several major universities and conducts interdisciplinary regarding earthquakes. The center also coordinates Great ShakeOut drills throughout the world in conjunction with its partner agencies.
The research done by SCEC has tangible benefits for Californians, including reduced earthquake insurance rates.
“We work with SCEC to obtain the best available research on earthquake risk,” said California Earthquake Authority Communications Director Chris Nance. “As a result of that research, beginning in 2016, our rates will drop statewide an average of 10 percent. For renters, they’ll drop 38 percent and for homeowners, collectively four rate decreases since we’ve been in business, rates will drop a total of 55 percent.”
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