CPP students practicing the Shakeout drill | CPP Office of Emergency Management

CPP shows mild response to the mandated Great California Shakeout drill

By David Pendleton, Oct. 31, 2023

Cal Poly Pomona along with millions of Californians were alerted from their devices at various times Oct. 24, to participate in The Great California Shakeout in preparation of the imminent “Big One.”

The alerted notification was supposed to be sent out at 10:19 a.m. to all Californians, but with an overloaded connection many students and professors were notified at different times. This made participation in the Shakeout drill at CPP mixed, with some classrooms covering under their desks for 60 seconds and others brushing it off and continuing in lecture.

To prepare and react quickly in a dangerous earthquake, The Great California Shakeout is an annual safety drill sent out on the third Thursday of every October to train residents to drop and cover during a possible catastrophic event.

Emergency Management Coordinator Arlett Carmona emphasized the importance of participating in the drill.

“In case of an emergency we all think we’re going to respond in a certain way, but you really don’t know until it happens,” said Carmona. “So, the more you’re exposed and aware of what to do, the more it becomes like muscle memory or second nature.”

Many students showed little concern for the severity of the possible catastrophic event as Southern California has stayed mostly firm for the past several years with mild earthquakes.

Mechanical engineering student, Jake Pollack noticed he was one of only a few people who participated in the drill as the rest of students carried on with their day.

“They probably weren’t taking it seriously enough because they knew it was a drill and there’s no real outside pressure to actually do it,” said Pollack.

Later that afternoon students and faculty were encouraged to practice escorting out of the campus buildings using alternative routes through emergency exits.

Steps for when an earthquake strikes | Photo Courtesy of CPP Office of Emergency Management

Two years prior CPP would pull the fire alarm to force students to evacuate the buildings, but since the Hot Dog Caper was happening on the same day, students were only notified to leave the campus buildings through digital devices.

The notified text messages were not as effective as the fire alarm, forcing library assistants to go around the building and ask students to leave for a short period of time.

“I understand it’s a difficult time going into midterms but ultimately safety is paramount,” said Carmona. “In general people really should practice these things, not only to be prepared but it’s part of our state appliance. So it’s actually mandated for us to do and participate in.”

Computer engineering student Julio Flores expressed a common reaction amongst the CPP students being forced to leave the library that afternoon.

“That same day we had a quiz and a midterm,” said Flores. “So having to leave the library and come back at a later time threw us off our schedule but then again it’s important to understand that if it actually happened, we would have to leave.”

For the second year in a row the Shakeout Drill was overshadowed by the Hot Dog Caper at CPP. Students took advantage of the opportunity to leave the classroom and participation the event.

The Great California Shakeout started in 2008 after a U.S. geological survey report supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency anticipated a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake to strike Southern California. The model predicted 1,800 deaths and $213 billion of economic losses.

Over a decade later Californians are still cautiously awaiting for the life-threatening earthquake to strike. The campus itself has a fault line that running through it, which forced the demolition of the CLA Tower back in 2022.

According to Carmona, as a way to continue preparations for the catastrophic event, CPP will be using the fire alarm to carry out another earthquake drill during the spring semester.

Carmona along with other emergency staff members at CPP have created multiple emergency preparedness resources online to help educate students how to handle an earthquake wherever a student may be. Students are also encouraged to download the MyShake App to track earthquakes locally.

Feature Image Courtesy of CPP Office of Emergency Management

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