Earthquakes have been on the minds of many students and faculty since the 7.2 earthquake struck this past Easter Sunday. Luckily, the quake occurred while classes were not in session. However, there are many students and faculty that ask themselves what should be done if an earthquake strikes while classes are in session.

This question has also come to the mind of English professor Karen Lim. Before the Easter quake hit, she was not sure what should be done if such an event occurred during a class session.

“We would first off, stop what we were doing, evacuate the building, and head to an open clearing away from the building,” Lim said.

This seems to be how most students would react to an earthquake during class hours.

Student Alice Tio said, “My first instinct would be to run outside, stay away from trees and buildings – anything that would fall on me.”

The same idea is echoed by student Paul Sable, “I’d probably run out the door or go underneath the desk. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?”

Because the school does not provide specific instructions for faculty on what to do in the event of an earthquake happening during class hours, Lim and her classes went in search of earthquake preparedness instructions.

“That Monday my classes went through the Red Cross Web site and looked for instructions on what to do during and after an earthquake,” Lim said.

Not all teachers have taken the same initiative as that of Lim, and with specific instructions on earthquake preparedness not provided for the faculty, students are left in the dark when it comes to such instances.

“I know they just started administration workshops on emergency preparedness,” Lim said, “but there should be more training for everyone. There should be district guidelines that tell students and faculty if they should evacuate, where they should stay after evacuations, and whether they should contact campus police.”

Sable made a similar comment stating that “Instructions should be included in the emergency preparedness plans on the bulletin boards posted around campus. The posters should be directing the students in any emergency.”

If a natural disaster did occur, such as an earthquake, light search and rescue and evacuation procedures would be coordinated by the district’s Incident Command System.

According to Jerry Davis, vice president of administrative services and ICS operations chief, there are 20 staff members who have been going through the Community Emergency Response Teams training for the past nine months. CERT training consists of light search and rescue, team organization, disaster medical operations and first aid.

“We know what to do if a disaster hits,” Davis said. “Now, of course there will be lots of confusion that will occur, but then again, given the training we have, we feel we will be able to calm things down to get things awkward into an orderly process.”

There are also plans to train additional faculty to take their students to a predetermined evacuation site following an earthquake. This fall, a road show will be given to evening staff and adjunct faculty so that they will know what to expect and what they should do if an earthquake takes place.

Should an earthquake leave the campus in a critical state, a medical team would be available to perform triage and a psych team to help the emotionally distressed. Food provisions from the cafeteria and book store would be available if needed, and other water and basic food-ration storage is being considered.

“The game plan is to have at least three days worth of supplies before we can get help from the outside, given a major disaster,” Davis said.

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