Statewide earthquake drill shakes up preparedness plan
October 23, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
Staffers flooded from Issaquah City Hall and other municipal buildings at 10:18 a.m. Oct. 18 as employees joined a statewide earthquake drill.
The preparedness exercise involved public employees throughout the city, plus residents throughout the city and state, as planners tested residents’ ability to respond to a temblor.
The city official responsible for disseminating information to the public during emergencies, Communications Coordinator Autumn Monahan, said frequent disaster preparedness exercises educate city employees about the proper procedures to follow in worst-case scenarios.
“It becomes second nature to them. If there’s an earthquake or a fire or some kind of incident, they know exactly what to do,” she said.
What to know
Planners at the American Red Cross offer simple tips for Washington residents to prepare for earthquakes:
In the drill, city staffers also conduct evacuation and sweep procedures at municipal buildings to practice searching for employees beneath debris or stuck inside offices or restrooms during a real emergency.
Staffers also performed inspections on buildings as part of the drill.
Evacuees gathered outside buildings, and each department conducted a roll call and radioed the information to the municipal Emergency Operations Center.
Statewide, more than 700,000 Washington residents joined in the Great Washington ShakeOut. October is Disaster Preparedness Month in Washington, and planners scheduled the drill to coincide with the observance.
State officials hoped the exercise might involve more than 1 million participants in Washington, but organizers said the turnout reflected a strong interest in emergency preparedness.
The event was the first time Washington joined a national earthquake drill. Nationwide, more than 40 million people in 13 states participated in the exercise.
The exercise centered on a drop, cover and hold drill. Washington organizers said the event allowed residents and organizations, such as local governments and school districts, to practice safety responses to earthquakes.
State drill organizers also asked participants to do conduct at least one additional emergency preparedness step, such as stocking up on emergency supplies or joining in a neighborhood readiness program.
“We had a great response in Washington in our first year of Great ShakeOut participation,” said Washington Emergency Management Division Director Jim Mullen said in a statement. “We were especially pleased by the participation of more than 400,000 K-12 students, faculty and staff across the state.”
Issaquah emergency planners last participated in a detailed earthquake response exercise in June.
Officials in local, regional, state and federal government joined the 2012 Evergreen Quake Exercise Series to prepare for a devastating disaster in Issaquah and Western Washington. The scenario for the event imagined a magnitude-6.7 earthquake along the Seattle Fault.
The last major earthquake to occur in the Puget Sound region — the magnitude-6.8 Nisqually earthquake — occurred Feb. 28, 2001.