ELAC does bare minimum to prepare for big quake

CN/Kien Ha

By Rodolfo Trujillo

While other organizations statewide prepare for the big earthquake that will inevitably hit California, East Los Angeles College will do a simple evacuation drill.

Tomorrow is the Great California ShakeOut and ELAC will be joining almost 10 million people throughout the state in testing out its emergency response in the event of an earthquake.  Other organizations will have a simulated earthquake drill. Some people will act as injured, while others will be providing mock first aid. Meanwhile, people in buildings will drop to the floor at 10:20 a.m. and seek cover under a sturdy table or desk. ELAC is not doing that.

“Because a lot of people are in new locations, we wanted to test the alarms and check if the zones work,” said Susan Okawa who works in administrative services and is coordinating the evacuation. “Hopefully someday we can do a simulation,” said Okawa.

There is one to two staff on each floor of a building in charge of evacuating it. Each building will have what Okawa is calling a marshal that will report if the building has been properly evacuated and note any problems. The Campus Sheriff’s Department will assist with evacuations and crowd control.

As posted on the website, “ShakeOut creates the sense of urgency that is needed for people, organizations, and communities to get prepared, to practice what to do to be safe and to learn what plans need to be improved.” Most Elans are not fully prepared.

“(I would) go under a desk and wait a while,” said Angela Vasquez, a second year business student. She has never been in a drill at ELAC and has not gone through one since high school. Vasquez believes that she could be more prepared at home. “We have perishable foods, but we don’t have extra water and do not have any first aid kits.”

David Nogal, a third-year electrical engineering student, feels he is better prepared.  His family has food and water to last them a few days. They do not have a first aid kit.  In case there is an earthquake, Nogal said, “Stay calm, away from buildings. If you’re in a building, get under a desk or sturdy table and place your hands over your neck.”

Nogal has been through a small earthquake at ELAC, during his first week as a student. He said the instructor led students outside and then staff checked the building.

Linda Lee Cano, a student at ELAC who is studying to be a medical assistant, does not believe she is prepared. She will not be at school on Thursday, so she will not experience the drill. She has no first aid kit or non-perishable foods. She lives on a fixed income and finds it hard to keep up with an emergency kit consisting of first aid supplies and non-perishable foods.

Okawa said that she will be in front of E7 to coordinate efforts and have building marshals check in with her.  She said faculty and staff have been told at least three times about the drill and that they should have planned accordingly. She said the college has been working on preparedness, especially in the wake of new buildings and zones that have been recently created.

Okawa said,“I’m hoping for the drill to take about 20 minutes.”

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