Drop, cover, and hold! On Thursday, October 18, all Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) sites participated in the Great ShakeOut, a worldwide opportunity to practice how to respond safely during earthquakes. Since its origination in 2008, the Great ShakeOut has encouraged people in homes, schools, and organizations to evaluate and improve their emergency preparedness on an annual basis.
Students and employees district-wide were instructed to get under a desk or covered space to practice the recommended “drop, cover and hold on” technique. Many sites also took this time to run-through evacuation procedures and check on emergency supplies.
In addition to the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill, the District also tested the PYLUSD Emergency Operations Center (EOC). When faced with a local large-scale incident or disaster, the EOC activates, monitors, and responds to emergency needs throughout the District. The EOC team consists of trained District staff members and administrators, and is overseen by Executive Director of Instructional Support, Richard McAlindin.
All 34 PYLUSD school sites called into the EOC quickly following the Great ShakeOut drill to report a pre-determined, hypothetical emergency situation happening on their campus. Schools communicated their “status” through one of three communication methods — the regular office phone, the power-fail red phone system, or the emergency response radio. The drill not only provided an opportunity to test the power-fail phones to ensure proper working condition, it also provided District staff an opportunity to practice how information is recorded and tracked once the EOC receives it.
Although the District hopes it never has to activate the EOC, advanced planning, education, training, and simulated practice are key factors in minimizing the adverse impact of any incident or disaster – earthquakes included.