Just in case you missed it…Last Thursday at 10:20 a.m. an alarm sounded at Dearborn Street Elementary School in Northridge. Within seconds students scrambled to get under their desks, covered their heads with one hand, and held onto the leg of the desk with their other hand.
Fortunately, it was only a drill. This school, along with over 10 million other Californians, participated in the Great California ShakeOut. It was an opportunity to practice earthquake safety actions, such as “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!”
It is particularly important for this area to practice this type of drill, since like many other parts of California it is prone to this type of natural disaster. In fact, in 1994 Northridge experienced a devastating earthquake in which lives were lost and infrastructure was severely damaged.
However, this drill was different in that it was also a full-scale drill. MySafeLA , the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), and the Earthquake Country Alliance teamed up with the elementary school and simulated post-quake search and rescue, structure fire, HazMat, CPR, triage and reunification scenarios managed by the teachers and the LAFD.
Some of the scenarios involved first responders discovering a Chemistry classroom on fire with hazardous materials inside and an adult staff-member reported down on campus with cardiac arrest requiring emergency intervention. There were even students with professional moulage injuries to make the drill seem more realistic.
In addition to the drill, the students and teachers also learned how earthquake-safe buildings are constructed, and the school got to show off its “earthquake bin,” with all the supplies that Los Angeles Unified School District campuses have to help deal with natural disasters. There was even a shaker trailer on the playground that simulated an 8.0 magnitude earthquake.
ShakeOut was a great opportunity for the students, teachers, and faculty to practice what to do to be safe in the event of an earthquake and learn what plans need to be improved. It also provided first responders a chance to practice what they have prepared for during their entire professional careers.
To learn more about how to be better prepared for earthquakes visit the following resources: