Nevada Shakeout: Schools Go Into Earthquake Prep Mode
It's now a Nevada tradition. For the 3rd year, the "Great Nevada Shake Out" sent kids scurrying under their desks, waiting for about a minute...the life span of an earthquake. At the same exact time, the school district's emergency management mock exercise began, working through the disaster as it would happen at their headquarters.
Surrounded by maps and data at the school district's Emergency Operations Center, personnel from the superintendent's office, IT department, transportation, legal, finance, communications and more hashed through logistics. As they worked through the details, one official told the others, "That's as far as we can get in the area, and now there's a cluster of parents there." Another asked, "What are we going to do with those kids now, that don't have parents or immediate family here in the area?"
This was the scenario: the earthquake, also at 10:18am, was extensive. It caused a lot of damage especially to McQueen High and Billinghurst Middle Schools, where some of the buildings collapsed. 6 schools are lit only with emergency lighting, and utilities are out all over town. In the mock emergency meeting, orders are sent out for flat-bed trailers, ATV's, food and water. How much and where, decided in this room. New outlines are made so that there's a true plan when and if the real thing happens. As the school district's emergency manager Tracy Moore told us, "It's going well. We are testing our staff."
Back at Sierra Vista Elementary, the kids are coming out from under their desks. The exercise is over…an important one to Superintendent Pedro Martinez, who told us, "When you're one of three states in the country that's at a high risk for an earthquake, we can never practice enough of these drills."
Over at headquarters, Tracy Moore agrees. "So many people that get to work together on a day to day basis put a plan together, and made it work." For Tracy, it's a bit personal. As a kid he experienced an earthquake so strong, "You cound see the dust from the rocks coming out of the ground." At age 16, he signed up as a volunteer fireman in Galena. He's been working emergencies and law enforcement ever since. What's happened recently to make earthquakes a priority for the school district? Moore told us, "From my perspective, the biggest wakeup call was Japan."
Like the seismology experts, Moore knows that big quake could happen at any time, anywhere. But now, he says the school district has a real handle on what to do when the real thing hits.
-written by John Potter
Even though the Nevada Shake Out is over until next year, you can still learn what to do to prepare at your home or business. Check out the earthquake preparation tips we have for you, by clicking this link: