Students Take Cover During Great California ShakeOut Drill

By Cedric He, Print Feature Copy Editor

// On Oct. 19, Acalanes High School held a schoolwide earthquake drill to educate students and community members on procedures for on-campus emergencies.

   The drill took place at 10:19 A.M. during second-period classes and lasted about five minutes. During the exercise, students and faculty sheltered in place, and the school administration reviewed safety protocols and procedures.

   The drill was part of the Great California ShakeOut, a state-wide earthquake readiness training exercise in which schools, businesses, and other institutions practice “Dropping, Covering, and Holding” in unison.

   “In previous years, we have participated in the Great California ShakeOut [but] we haven’t in the last couple of years. This is the first year we were participating in that in a while,” Acalanes Principal Eric Shawn said.

   Along with the ShakeOut drill, in past years, the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) has hosted emergency preparedness drills at the beginning of each year to remind students of evacuation procedures and the different bells or announcements that students can expect to arise.

   District staff and school administration decided to recontinue the Great Shakeout drill to create emergency response awareness, especially surrounding first aid and evacuation procedures.

   “We want to make sure that [students and staff] are practicing and familiar with where do [they] can get the supplies that they need in order to administer first aid in the event [that] they need that. And then there’s also the practicing of evacuating, of checking the buildings to make sure nobody is left behind. So there were little pieces that we added in during the Great ShakeOut,” Shawn said.

   In the event of an on-campus emergency, teachers are responsible for safely evacuating students in their classrooms, escorting them to the football field, or sheltering in place. 

   “The school is set up pretty well for emergency situations. The staff, including myself, have been trained and are prepared. I’m aware of procedures such as when and who to contact in the event of an emergency, where the emergency supplies are and that the pack is easily accessible, and when to evacuate under what situations,” Acalanes Librarian Barbara Burkhalter said.

   Community members found the drill to be helpful as practice for potential crises. While most students were familiar with the earthquake protocol, others gained new insight into emergency response procedures.

   “I learned that when there is no object to hide under it is best to stay under a door frame. These drills definitely improve the schools ability to respond to an actual emergency and it is important to know what to do beforehand,” junior Dylan Rocca said.

   The schoolwide exercise coincided with an actual earthquake in Sacramento, which occurred the day before, reinforcing the importance of emergency preparedness.

   “Knowing there had been an earthquake just 24 hours before the drill was planned, made me more focused on the drill and reminded me of the reason that we do this and its importance,” Burkhalter said.

   Overall, the drill benefited both students and faculty members and reinforced confidence in the school’s ability to respond to future live emergencies.

  “Doing [the California Great ShakeOut] annually gives an opportunity for our crisis teams to convene [and] to reflect on our processes and procedures to tighten up areas in the event of an emergency. So we’ll likely be doing that every year ongoing,” Shawn said.

Leave a Reply