Local School Takes Great California ShakeOut Seriously

Stop drop and coverStudents headed to the big field after the shaking stopped. The safest place is a big open field with no electrical wires overhead.Students were instructed to continue reading until the earthquake drill commenced.The Emergency Control Center instructed the operations,Students brought books to entertain themselves because in a real scenario they may be outside waiting for hours.Emergency kits were brought to the scene.Many students had an injury and had to be helped at the triage.DSC08476DSC08479DSC08483DSC08485DSC08496DSC08497DSC08503DSC08507DSC08508DSC08509DSC08514DSC08516DSC08523DSC08524DSC08531DSC08536DSC08537DSC08541DSC08543DSC08548DSC08550DSC08553

Article and Photography by RACHEL YOUNG

12:43 pm | October 17, 2013

Pasadena businesses and schools joined 9.6 million Californians for the annual statewide earthquake drill called “The Great California ShakeOut” on Thursday at 10:17 a.m.

While participating in the “drop, cover, and hold,” at 10:17 was the minimum the Fire Department asked all Pasadena residents to do to participate, Pasadena Christian School and Preschool took the drill to the next level simulating disaster scenarios and conducting emergency response procedures

“There are so many threats to schools, there’s fires, bombs, people with guns, but probably the most serious and the one that is inevitable is an earthquake especially in California. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” Pasadena Christian School Superintendent Dr. Steven Gray said.

Pasadena Christian has been perfecting the school earthquake preparedness procedure for several years, building upon the scenario each year adding a triage for injured students this year. The fire department came to help assess the drill and give advice for improvement.

“We learned how difficult it is to communicate when you have 450 kids and 70 adults and nine acres of buildings,” Gray said.

The first responders on site were encouraged by the organization the school showed and had only minor improvements. The drill operated much like the city would in a real situation, using radios and calling orders down from the emergency operation center.

“Not only do they do the minimum, this year they had the triage, evacuation, they brought out their disaster supplies,” Emergency Management Coordinator Lisa Derderian said. “The fact that they’re using students as victims, helping them understand how the process works is great from our perspective. Were here to evaluate what they’re doing, we’ve noticed a few minor things they can now alter so when we do have an earthquake they can change their policies.”

With more than 50 private schools and more public schools, the fire department will not be able to make it to every school, so being self sustaining in an emergency as a school will be necessary.

“We feel a lot better knowing a school like this is prepared because that alleviates a lot of the response on us knowing they can be self sufficient. That’s what we want to encourage in other schools and neighborhood groups and businesses to be self sufficient knowing we may not be able to get there for a while,” Derderian said.

Every one of the Pasadena Christian School staff members is trained in first aid and various emergency drills are practiced monthly at the school.

The drill simulated injuries, 2-3 deaths, people being trapped, an entire trapped classroom, gas leaks, and destroyed buildings and gates.

“We have a lot of issues with people who are not at their posts because they’re trapped, so I think the confusion is definitely here. We’re having to adapt quite a bit,”  Pasadena Christian Junior High Principal Ken Orr said. Orr was part of the Emergency Operating Center. “I feel like we’ve set up some realistic scenarios that will help us know what to do. I’m already making notes on how to improve.”

Orr takes part in working on the disaster plan so he enjoys the opportunity to test the plan and make changes, but realizes they could never anticipate all the possibilities.

“I was really impressed as a parent with what they did here today. I feel relieved knowing about the effort they do,” Pamela Madrid said.

Another mother of a four-year-old came as a volunteer to help with the scenario. She spoke the previous day with her son about the drill.

“Yesterday I told him they’re going to practice the shakeout drill for an emergency and he said ‘Bunny in a hole’ and he dropped and covered his head and held on. He knew exactly what to do based on what he had learned in preschool,” Heather Burkhart said.

The hope is that students will go home and discuss what to do in an earthquake with their families and help make a plan at home.

The City issued basic safety precautions to prepare for an earthquake: secure safe spaces and movable items; create a disaster plan; prepare disaster supplies that include food, water, medications and other needs; safeguard finances; drop, cover and hold on when the ground shakes; and help the injured once the shaking stops.

Dederian said several of the city officers took part in the “drop, cover, and hold.” The Police Department practiced their earthquake protocol in a disaster, the information technology department practiced their floor warden programs as well as what would happen if the internet was down, and the fire department took the fire trucks and ambulances out of the building to allow for response.

Pasadena City College and Pasadena Public Library also took part in the statewide drill. For more information about the Great California ShakeOUt go to www.shakeout.org/california.

For more information about Pasadena Christian School visit www.pasadenachristian.org.