BY HARRISON BLUTO
Photo courtesy of Harrison Bluto. Students waiting outside the Communication building during the Great ShakeOut on Oct. 18.
Students and faculty campus-wide participated in the Great ShakeOut drill on Thursday, Oct. 18. The drill started at 10:18 a.m. and lasted until 10:30 a.m. The goal of the Great ShakeOut is to prepare the faculty and students in the event that a major earthquake strikes while they’re on campus. The objective is to teach people where to go, who to talk to and what to do when an earthquake hits.
Students participating in the drill seemed somewhat agitated by it or disengaged with the event. COD student Anthony J Mascorro said, “I thought it was whatever,” and was just glad that it went rather quickly.
“Half the people didn’t know where to go, and nobody cared to pay attention to the signs,” said COD student Eli Ryan. From observing the event to getting student info it became clear that the majority of students saw the drill as somewhat of a nuisance.
So why does COD participate in this drill then? Administrative Assistant of the Department of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness, Jill Mikles Probst, was asked a few questions concerning the Great ShakeOut and what specific things the department will be looking for or testing during the drill.
Students and faculty were instructed to go to the amphitheater and the football field during the drill to wait for further instructions and to take roll to make sure everyone was present. Probst stated that these locations were specifically chosen because they are open and have no potential structure that could fall on top of the students or faculty if the earthquake causes it to topple over.
When asked what the biggest concern the department aims to address with the drill was, Probst said, “having people know where to go in the event of a massive earthquake was the major objective.” Probst stated that students who are attending College of the Desert for their first time or may have never been through an earthquake have trouble knowing where to go or who to contact and that the issue escalates when a language barrier is involved.
The subject of those who may need more help than others in the situation of an earthquake brought up what the department does during the drill to be prepared for those with disabilities. Probst said the department runs special exercises during the drill. She said that last year’s drill involved helping a blind student out of a building.
The Great ShakeOut isn’t just for students and faculty, it’s an exercise for the on-campus officers as well. The students who participated in the drill might not be the same ones who are on campus when a major earthquake strikes. Probst said that the drill is also an evaluation of the safety department. It gives them valuable information such as how fast everyone evacuated, how many people didn’t follow the evacuation instructions, and if everyone knew what to do and where to go.
With the information the department gathers, they can begin to prepare for next year’s drill. “Once it finished we debrief. We turn around and we start working on the next plan for next year,” said Probst. “It’s better when all the information is fresh.” The department checks what equipment worked as planned and what didn’t, what departments followed orders and who didn’t. The drill allows them to see what needs fixing for the real situation.
For more information on the Great ShakeOut and what you can do to be prepared visit www.earthquakecountry.org.