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SECTION 3
EARTHQUAKE
RESPONSE PROCEDURES

OBJECTIVE

To develop an emergency response plan that ensures the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff during and after a damaging earthquake.

"I think planning that includes all staff, certificated and classified, and all students is important. You don't know beforehand who is going to be available and at the school site at the time of an earthquake."

Ron Staley
Earthquake Preparedness Program Coordinator
Pajaro Valley Unified School District
Watsonville, CA

Response procedures can be as simple as a checklist, but it is important that all staff is familiar with the procedures and that a wide range of possible events have been discussed in the preparation of those procedures.

Your emergency procedures are the core of your school's earthquake plan. How well your teams can carry out their responsibilities will, of course, depend on how well each of them has prepared before the earthquake. Actions to be taken before an earthquake are suggested in each of the checklists in this section. In addition, your teams should have had sufficient drills and training so that they can automatically and confidently perform necessary tasks (see Sections 1 and 6).

"Of course, there was a great deal of excitement in the area (October 17th, 1989). There were gas leaks in the immediate vicinity of the central offices. You could smell the gas. People were coming out of the homes nearby and going onto the high school football fields and play fields which happen to be next to the central office. Others were coming by in their cars. You could tell the people were very frightened. With the fire engine sirens screaming, the police sirens going, you knew that there was a great deal of trouble and you could see the red glow of fire in the area."

James Baker, Superintendent (retired)
Pajaro Valley Unified School District
Watsonville, CA

KEEP IN MIND

ACTIVITIES

  1. If your staff has not already been divided into the teams recom- mended in Section I (see Summary of the Earthquake Planning Process), consider doing so now.
  2. Using the Emergency Response Checklists as a guide, have each team discuss its responsibilities after an earthquake. Remind staff that actions taken before an earthquake can greatly improve their ability to respond during and after an earthquake. Encourage staff to brainstorm expected actions, and to expand on the checklists provided.

"No doors would open, no doors would open at all (after the October 17th, 1989 earthquake). We have no windows that open so anyone who had been in those buildings would have been trapped unless they had thrown a chair through a window to get out. And some of the rooms actually don't have windows so there would have been no way of knowing if there were people in there unless they were screaming, and no way to get an injured person out."

Kenneth Simpkins, Superintendent
Loma Prieta Joint Elem. School District
Los Gatos, CA

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School Earthquake Preparedness Guide - State of Arkansas
Arkansas Office of Emergency Services, 1993