Public safety — Great ShakeOut held once a year, but officials say drills should occur more often

At 10:16 a.m. Oct. 16, buildings across the nation were evacuated as a part of the Great ShakeOut. In Oregon, more than 260,000 people participated in the emergency preparedness event, 354 which were Yamhill County staff members.

“The very basic essence of it, it’s an opportunity to talk about if an earthquake happens, what do you do,” said Yamhill County Emergency Manager Sue Lamb. “Basically, you should remember to drop, cover and hold.”

The practice drill is important because it not only reminds people the best way to stay safe during an emergency, but it allows for practice in accountability.

“(We also held) an accountability drill with roll calls at each department,” Lamb said.

While sometimes the drill is skipped at other emergency preparedness events, she said it’s important in case of a real emergency to keep track of where people may or may not be.

The same can be said for practicing the proper way to respond to an earthquake.

“I (was) hearing people walk out saying, ‘If there was really an earthquake, I would have just run out of the building,’” Lamb said. “The reason why you don’t do that is because of all the stuff coming down in a real earthquake, all the non-structure (items), ceiling, lights, they come down on top of you.”

Especially with the older buildings in Yamhill County, she said the bricks and windows can break off hurting people on their way out. It’s safer to practice the technique simulated at the event of drop, cover and hold.

At last week’s drill, Lamb said everything went as it should have.

“It went very well, very smoothly,” she said.

From the drill, as with each event, they take feedback to administrators on how to improve. Lamb said one thing to remember is earthquake drills can happen more than once a year.

“Schools do it throughout the year and people can do that in their town, small and large businesses, in their own organization, you can do them anytime of the year,” she said. “Pop one on your staff and family to make sure they know where you’re going and accountable for each other. That’s the point.”

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