Staff and emergency services directing students to leave the library and gather outside for the duration of the Great ShakeOut drill as a safety exercise. MICHAEL ACEVEDO | THE POLY POST

Great ShakeOut prepares students for ‘The Big One’

Cal Poly Pomona participated in the annual California Great Shakeout drill on Thursday, Oct. 17. 

The event first began in 2008 with hopes of better preparing Californians for a major earthquake. As always in California, the question is not if, but rather when a big earthquake strikes. 

At 10:17 a.m., campuswide emergency alerts were sent out to computers and telephones owned by CPP. Following the alert, everyone was directed to drop, cover and hold on for approximately one minute before exiting buildings for a scheduled evacuation.

After fire alarms and sirens were triggered, students walked out of buildings in an organized fashion to their designated assembly area. Each building was assigned its own unique area to evacuate to as quickly as possible and wait until further instructions were given.

Margaret Vinci, manager of the seismological laboratory at Caltech, says the drill helps participants know how prepared they are for an earthquake.

“They think about their preparedness,” Vinci said. “Do they have enough water? Do they have a fire extinguisher? Do they have a plan when they’re with their family?”

Staff and emergency services directing students to leave the library and gather outside for the duration of the Great ShakeOut drill as a safety exercise.
Michael Avecedo | The Poly Post

Although it was a safety exercise, some students felt like the drill was more of a hassle and disrupted their time in class or studying.

First-year undeclared student Bryant To said, “I feel like this event isn’t beneficial because earthquakes are unpredictable and it takes time away from studying in the library and from people going to classes. Those classes are something we paid for already so you might as well go to them.” 

First-year psychology student Martin Penaloza said, “I wasn’t really told anything other than just use the fire exits, which is obvious in an emergency (that) you’d do something like that.”

Vinci says the importance of being prepared outweighs the inconvenience.

“If they (students) practice it, then their bod(ies) will intuitively get them into a safe place before they have a chance to think about it and to then drill their plans and then fix any weaknesses they may have in their plan,” Vinci said. 

 After less than hour, evacuation coordinators began leading students and faculty back into their respective buildings to resume their day. 

The event did not have an official end time, but slowly emergency sirens within buildings were shut off indicating it was safe to return inside.  

According to CPP’s emergency procedures, after an earthquake it is important to prepare for possible aftershocks. 

Emergency services reminds students and faculty to never return into a building unless you are instructed to do so by emergency personnel. 

Emergency services also notes that in some occasions, you may be safer to stay inside and to only evacuate the building if instructed to do so. 

It is also extremely important to refrain from attempting to relocate any victims as CPP emergency personnel will perform search and rescue operations. 

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