Earthquake drill prompts preparations

Illustration by Madeleine Orona Burgos

By Eva Love

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management predicts that there is a 40 percent chance the Cascadia Subduction Zone will cause a 9.0+ magnitude earthquake within the next 50 years. The Lewis & Clark Emergency Management Team is constantly working to improve safety measures and education on campus to prepare for this disaster and others like it. LC relies on the surrounding neighborhood, Collins View, to successfully execute emergency responses, including earthquake emergency procedures.

Emergency Response Coordinator Jason Holmgren explained that safety is the first priority in any disaster event. LC uses the Great Oregon ShakeOut drill to teach individuals how to “Duck, Cover, and Hold on” to protect themselves during an earthquake for precisely this reason. 56 countries use the ShakeOut drill, which was started in California in 2008. This fall, the LC community, in addition to institutions and organizations throughout Oregon, practiced the drill on October 20th. Businesses, schools, non-profit and government organizations, families and hotels are just some of the groups that partake in the drill.

“We do the ShakeOut drill so that everyone at least has some simple, easily followable instructions on how to protect themselves during an earthquake,” Holmgren said.

LC also uses Instinct Command Structure (ICS), which is a national protocol for responding to disasters. Associate Vice President of Facilities Michel George explained that the ICS framework designates specific tasks to certain individuals to maintain order during a disaster.

“We would have somebody on campus to be the commander, the planner would be the next person you appoint, and we have backpacks that contain information to guide people who are given these roles,” George said. “We’ve trained a lot of facilities people. We’ve also trained people that live in the neighborhood who are affiliated with campus. If a disaster happened after hours we would look to these people from the surrounding community. We’re in the process of training (Area Directors) to take on that role too.”

Former Environmental Geology 150 students Marlene Guzman ’19 and Ariel Moyal ’19 said that it is important for LC to have emergency procedures in place not only to respond quickly but also to support the surrounding community.

“Emergency plans are important because we won’t necessarily be able to wholly depend on outside resources to provide that for us because other people are going to be needing that support, and will possibly be in even worse circumstances than LC,” Guzman said.

“I remember Liz (Associate Professor of Geological Science Elizabeth Safran) talking about how schools are often community safety zones where people meet to distribute goods, so we also provide to the rest of the community,” Moyal said. “We can’t just deal with our issues, we also need to deal with the community’s needs.”

Holmgren also acknowledges the important role LC’s neighbors play in emergency situations. While LC hopes to support its populous and neighbors however they are able, many residents of Collins View have also offered their services in the event of a disaster.

“The flipside of that coin is that neighbors might be relying on us but we will also be relying on them,” Holmgren said. “Due to our isolation up here on the Hill, having a neighborhood cadre of retired nurses and doctors, people in construction, mental health professionals who have already donated their time during an emergency situation really helps us out. It’s about building that community resilience.”

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