Cal Poly Pomona joined millions of Californians for the annual Great ShakeOut drill at 11:40 a.m. on Oct. 20.
The drill is meant to simulate an earthquake, giving participants a chance to practice proper procedures and be prepared in the event of a real emergency. During the minute-long shakeout drill, students practiced the drop, lock, cover and hold procedure. Lock was recently added for people with mobility issues who use wheelchairs or walkers.
According to Arlett Carmona, emergency management coordinator and CPP alum, given the propensity of earthquakes in California, it is important for all students and faculty to fully participate and know proper earthquake procedure.
“We’re hoping that everyone takes this seriously and treats it as if it were happening, because you never know how you’re going to respond in an emergency,” said Carmona.
This year’s drill, however, began around the same time as the annual Hot Dog Caper. CPP students rushed to the Bronco Commons, queuing up for free food, prizes and live entertainment, as the drill started and ended. A large portion of the student body missed the drill entirely.
Carmona said it is important for students to be aware of what the messaging looks like and how the alert system functions in order for the emergency management department to ensure it is working as it should.
For years, California has anticipated a large and potentially catastrophic earthquake. A study in 2006 revealed that the San Andreas Fault reached stress levels high enough to cause an earthquake with a magnitude of seven or larger, referred to as “The Big One.”
Ernie Fierro, the manager of emergency management, believes the more people practice, the more second-nature it becomes.
“We look at our campus today and a lot of these students that come here have never really been in a major earthquake … where you felt violent shaking for 45 seconds, a minute, minute and a half,” said Fierro.
The last major earthquake in California was in 2019 in a largely uninhabited area east of Bakersfield. Before that, a 6.9 magnitude quake in 1989 shook the Bay Area, killing 63, injuring nearly 4,000 and causing $10 billion in damage. For students like senior animal science student Hannah Esqueda, that earthquake was before she were born.
As for Esqueda, she is not prepared for “The Big One” and does not have her own emergency plan.
“I do have a few things I should get, such as cases of water and other essentials that would be needed if worse comes to worst, but I think it is important for everyone to have a plan,” said Esqueda.
Fierro said the timing of the drill is different this year and takes place around U-hour, in hopes to not disrupt academic instruction. As the drill took place on campus, students received a phone call, text and email alerting them to take cover for one minute.
According to Carmona, it is also important to include pets in an emergency plan with food, water and toys, along with a complete home emergency kit. This home kit should include first-aid kits, medications and up-to-date medical IDs on phones.
“If you live at home with your family, have a safety plan. Talk about where you would meet up, or what supplies you have and what you can all do to work together,” said Carmona. “If you live in the dorms, have a safety plan with your roommates or your RA.”
Fierro recommends having a week’s worth of food in an emergency stash. During the pandemic, people realized the importance of keeping food and necessities stocked, in case of emergencies or disasters.
“COVID was a negative thing for our country, and it changed our lives, but in some ways it actually better prepared us for other things, like earthquakes or fires, or other things we might have to be left on our own to fend for ourselves,” said Fierro.