The Great Southern California Shake Out is one week away and participants are getting ready.
The Shake Out is a planned weeklong series of special events that will help the public understand how important it is to be ready for the “big one.” The mock quake is set to hit Southern California on Nov. 13 at 10 a.m. Scientists, including Dr. Lucy Jones, the chief scientist from the Multi Demonstration Project for Southern California, came up with a scenario of an 7.8 earthquake that travels along the San Andreas Fault. The drill will give agencies and the public a chance to test how they would respond to this type of disaster and gauge how prepared they really are.
In the scenario, the earthquake kills 1,800 people, injures 50,000 and causes $200 billion in damage.
According to Jones, in the past, businesses, schools, organizations and emergency response teams had drills separate from each other. This Nov. 13 event organizes all these agencies and allows for a coordinated response. It will not only deal with the immediate devastation but the financial, emotional and personal fall out.
The Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station will also participate on Nov. 13 and Nov. 15.
“(On Nov. 13), the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) will be in operation,” said Deputy Jorge Valdivia. “We will be checking all the critical facilities like freeway overpasses and buildings.”
The following Saturday, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members will join a mock earthquake drill that will include over 50 victims scattered throughout Crescenta Valley.
“There will be scenarios set up and we have 10 different CERT teams that will be responding,” said Paul Dutton, CERT team leader.
CERT is a community volunteer organization that trains members on how to respond in an emergency. In caseslike an earthquake, teams go through neighborhoods and evaluate damage, relaying the information back to the sheriff’s and fire stations.
“We are hoping to have 75 to 100 CERT members participate during Saturday’s drill,” Dutton said. He added he is looking forward to the Great Shake Out as a training exercise.
“The reason for this Shake Out is because people aren’t prepared for an earthquake. That is why I have been pushing CERT for the last three years,” he said.
Dutton has been banging the CERT drum loudly in an effort to warn the community that it must be prepared.
“We have nursing homes in the area and some have 500 seniors; how is their staff going to deal with all that unless they have help?” Dutton asked. “And we have about 3,000 students at Crescenta Valley High School. As friends, neighbors and community members, we need to be prepared.”
The entire city of Glendale and Glendale Unified School District will also be participating in the Southern California drill.
“During the Shake Out, schools will be given the scenario where a 7.8 earthquake has hit,” said Hank Paz, coordinator of student support services for the GUSD. “The students will get into a duck and cover, hold drill until the shaking stops — in 30 seconds — then the principals will call an all clear.”
From that point on teachers will be checking on students and their classrooms as if there had been a real earthquake. Administrators will be checking their campuses for problems with utilities including any gas leaks and water problems.
“We anticipate that there will be a loss of power if an earthquake hits,” Paz said.
Each school will be running on its gas powered generators for about 20 minutes.
The Emergency Operations Center will be activated in the city of Glendale and communications will be tested throughout the city, including the schools.
Schools have always done their own earthquake/emergency drills, however the Shake Out provides a unique opportunity to have everyone on the same disaster page.
“It prepares us to respond to [what would actually] happen during a real earthquake,” Paz said. “The quake that happened during the summer caught a few of us off guard so this [drill] forces us to think in a strategic way.”
The Los Angeles County Fire Department will also be responding to the mock emergency throughout La Cañada.
The city will be working with all entities throughout the drill.
For more information on the Great Shake Out or to sign up as a participant, visit the website at www.shakeout.org. For those who would like to help with the CERT drill, not as a member but as a volunteer, contact Paul Dutton at (818) 249-8378.