ShakeOut drill wakes up Saddleback College

Instructor Larry Twicken joins his students as they practice “Duck, Cover, and Hold on”

MaryAnne Shults

It’s not a good day to die from projectile objects flying across a classroom during an earthquake.

Like any other Thursday at Saddleback College, some were daydreaming about their weekend plans while others were irritated and anxious because the lack of available parking spaces meant having to sneak in late into the 9 a.m. honors Humanities class in Room 105 in the Science and Mathematics building. Little did anyone know that lives would be permanently changed in the next hour.

With no warning, the San Andreas Fault ruptures, beginning at the Salton Sea and racing north for 190 miles. It triggers a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Within a minute, the first wave of shaking hits Saddleback College. Panic ensues. Things fly off walls and shelves and out of cabinets.

This situation is entirely hypothetical; however, extremely plausible. Thanks to the Great Southern California ShakeOut earthquake drill, about 5 million participants had an opportunity to practice quake-safe actions during the drill so they can act quickly and correctly when a real earthquake strikes.

Saddleback College took part in the drill today. At 9:45 a.m., the announcement came over the telephone speaker system to each classroom announcing an earthquake. Students and instructors quickly got under desks and tables and hung on for two minutes, the length of the hypothetical actual shaking, and in an orderly fashion, evacuated the buildings to the parking lots where they stood until the “all clear” signal sounded.

“It helps to know what to do beforehand, “said Michelle Caley, 19, psychology.”The information we received from our instructors [about what to do] was beneficial.

The “Drop, Cover and Hold on” protocol is to drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy desk or table and hold on until the shaking stops.

The main point is to not try to move but immediately protect yourself as best as possible where you are. Earthquakes occur without any warning and may be so violent that you cannot run or crawl; you therefore may be knocked to the ground where you happen to be. You will never know if the initial jolt will turn out to be start of the big one.

After the evacuation, members of the campus’ Community Emergency Response Team checked each room to make sure all students were out.

C-CERT designees Dr. Jim Wright, dean of the Math, Science and Engineering department, and lab technician Lance Potter walked through several classrooms after the drill, to be sure that everything went as planned.

When asked about his concerns for building damage, Dr. Wright said, “The [Science and Mathematics] building was built in the 70s to code, so most damage would come from things coming off the walls and off shelves.”

Dr. Wright said he keeps a box in his office with emergency supplies including a first-aid kit and a disposable camera for the specific purpose of fire or earthquake.

The ShakeOut drill had accomplished its objective.

One student was reminded of another time when she had to crawl under a table. She felt the drill was a good reminder about protecting oneself.

“I remembered an earthquake from about eight years ago that hit in the middle of the night,” said Danielle Anderton, 18, undecided. “I woke up when my door started to rattle and then my mom and I hid under our dining room table.”



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