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11/11/2008 08:00:00

Caltech to ShakeOut in Earthquake Drill

PASADENA, Calif.--On November 13, millions of Southern Californians will drop, cover, and hold on as they participate in the Great Southern California ShakeOut-the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history.

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has been a world leader in seismology since the 1920s, when Caltech geophysicist Charles Richter developed the Gutenburg-Richter Scale formula for measuring the size of an earthquake. And as a leader in this research, Caltech believes it is vital to be an active participant in the ShakeOut drill.

Director of the Caltech Seismological Laboratory, Robert Clayton, states, "We encourage all Southern California academic institutions, businesses, and the public to participate in this important exercise. It is a prime opportunity to practice and become more prepared for this likely disaster, and to prevent it from becoming a major catastrophe. For Caltech, it is critical to not only provide the best scientific data on earthquakes, but also to provide the best information in earthquake response systems."

Caltech's director of Environmental, Health, and Safety Services, Casimir (Caz) Scislowicz says, "ShakeOut provides an excellent opportunity to test Caltech's emergency preparedness and response systems. It is of the utmost importance to ensure the safety of our students, staff, faculty, and their families."

The ShakeOut Drill - November 13 The ShakeOut drill emanated from the ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario, a realistic portrayal of what could happen in a major earthquake on the southern end of the San Andreas Fault. Created by over 300 experts led by Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey, the scenario projects a hypothetical 7.8 magnitude earthquake originating near the Salton Sea, which would have the potential to devastate the region. ( Drop, Cover, and Hold On Exercise - 10 a.m. The campus drill will commence with the simulation of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake, in which Caltech students, faculty, staff, and administrators will drop, cover, and hold on for 120 seconds.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Designated personnel will be involved in the following:

Injury and Triage Simulation The campus will designate a simulated injury and triage area where volunteers will feign suffering from mock injuries and have first aid dispensed, including bandaging and splinting.

Urban Search and Rescue Teams Search and rescue teams comprised of campus emergency responders will be deployed to "damaged-simulated" buildings on campus to detect, tunnel, and extricate injured "victims."

Damaged Building and Facilities Certain buildings will be designated as "damaged," including burning structures and chemical spills, to test emergency response procedures. Teams will be deployed to assess structural and other damage, and to secure areas.

Other emergency systems will be tested, including the campus communications network and the distribution of critical resources such as water, food, and fuel.

Other Pasadena drill venues for ShakeOut include Pasadena Unified schools, private schools throughout the city, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Kaiser, Huntington Hospital, Playhouse District, South Lake Business District, Pasadena City College, City of Pasadena Emergency Operations Center, and Bank of America.

For more information on ShakeOut and for media graphics, go to and


Written by Deborah Williams-Hedges