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October 21, 2010
By Natalie Savidge
The first-ever Great Nevada ShakeOut was a huge success, statewide coordinator Graham Kent said following the Drop, Cover and Hold-on drill practiced by schools, businesses and organizations throughout Nevada.
“It’s a wonderful thing to see that more than 115,000 people registered for the event and became more earthquake aware,” Kent, the director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno, said.
The Seismology Laboratory is leading the effort to get Nevadans to join California’s successful Great ShakeOut effort to build awareness and get residents to practice how to respond in an earthquake.
School districts, government agencies, individuals and organizations from almost every county in the state participated in the event designed to give people practice in the simple drop, cover and hold on technique for responding in an earthquake.
At the University of Nevada, Reno, students, faculty and staff participated, with occupants of several buildings and classrooms doing coordinated drills. The University also practiced its emergency communications networks for the ShakeOut, sending text messages and mass e-mails, activating City Watch (reverse 911), sending a mass telephone voice mail and using Wolf Pack Radio to notify students and employees at 10:21 a.m. on 10/21.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas also participated with e-mail notification to its faculty, students and staff. In addition, a number of schools in the Clark County School District participated.
In Reno, during an unrelated training session at the Regional Emergency Operations Center, Washoe County Emergency Manager Aaron Kenneston ran the participants through the drill.
“We had 35 folks here at the REOC,” he said. “At precisely 10:21, we dropped, covered and held on. When the shaking stopped, we all exited the building in a safe manner, waited until the building was cleared, then re-entered and resumed training.”
The Washoe County School District held a systemwide exercise, with students and teachers also evacuating the buildings as they would in a real earthquake, following the 60-second drop, cover and hold-on response.
“Those were all textbook responses,” Kent said. “It’s gratifying to see the enthusiasm throughout the state and it’s great to see our children learning the importance of drop, cover and hold on, and to get some practice doing it.”
“Now we have to make sure their parents learn and practice this technique so the whole family is prepared,” he said. “Even one of our geosciences graduate students who was in Christchurch in the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake was taken by surprise and had to stop and think about what to do. You can’t practice enough.”
The Great Nevada ShakeOut is the new annual Nevada earthquake drill and will be held on the third Thursday of October every year. Next year it will October 20 at 10:20 a.m.
This year, participants were also encouraged to “secure your space,” which includes retrofitting buildings to reduce damage and securing things within that building to prevent injury.
“It also means to look around your house or office or classroom to see what could fall over, come off walls or be hit by flying glass from breaking windows,” Kent said. “With many of the recent large earthquakes occurring in the world, awareness is up and interest is high, making this an ideal time to impart important information to Nevada residents.”