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Students, other local groups drop, cover, hold on for ShakeOut B.C. earthquake drill (with video)

Oct 19 2012

The message seems to have gathered momentum in Year 3 of ShakeOut B.C., with an estimated 600,000 people taking part in the one-day earthquake-preparedness event.

Participation on Thursday was up by an estimated 70,000 people around the province from 2011, said Robert Johns, the City of Victoria’s emergency co-ordinator.

“I think there’s been more attention on it from media and social media, which has helped to spread the word and get more people participating,” Johns said. “As a result, that’s building into greater interest across the province.”

Johns, who heads the Victoria Emergency Management Agency, said the city was one of many municipalities to take part in the ShakeOut by having staff do the “drop, cover and hold on” drill at 10:18 a.m., simulating the proper response to an actual earthquake.

“I think most of our locations in the City of Victoria where there’s offices or workshops participated in some fashion today.”

Getting people familiar with “drop, cover and hold on” — dropping to the ground, seeking cover under a desk or other piece of furniture and holding on to it — is just one component of the exercise, Johns said.

“It’s also to raise awareness about being prepared, personally and in the workplace.”

Schools were among the most-prominent participants, and all four school districts in the capital region were well-represented. At George Jay Elementary, members of the Coast Capital Savings youth team — all local students in Grades 11 and 12 — preceded ShakeOut B.C. by filming a rap video on emergency preparedness at the Princess Avenue school.

“They’ve been working with the teachers and students at the school,” said Coast Capital’s Carly Nicol. “They thought a video would be a great way to teach the kids.”

While overall participation was impressive this year, University of Victoria professor Robert Gifford said many people are still not getting their act together when it comes to preparing emergency kits and taking other steps ahead of an emergency or disaster.

“There’s a whole raft of reasons,” said Gifford, whose areas of expertise are psychology and environmental studies.

The main reason is simply not knowing, not being aware of how serious the situation can be. And then there’s uncertainty, he said, not knowing if the so-called Big One will hit now or in 50 years or 100 years.

“With earthquakes, the event itself is beyond our control so there is a there’s-not-much-I-can-do-about-it kind of fatalism.”

Despite the importance of being prepared, some people just feel they’re too busy or get too wrapped up in what they’re doing to take part in something in a group exercise, Griffin said. jwbell@timescolonist.com


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