After 9.5 million Californians who registered to "Drop, Cover and Hold On" for the largest earthquake drill in history at 10:17 a.m. today, the question isn't "Did you feel it?" It's "How well did we do?"
ShakeOut debriefings are an important element to the aftermath of an earthquake drill. In San Bernardino County, there are two schools collaborating on their disaster planning to combine their efforts because of their proximity to each other. Montessori in Redlands is a private school for ages 18 months through 6th grade, and The Grove School is a public charter school for grades 7-12 with two campuses flanking each side of Montessori. Total population for both schools is about 550.
For this year's drill, students in grades six through nine also practiced evacuating to an officially designated off-site facility, which would have to happen if circumstances after a quake forced the population off campus. The schools plan a combined ShakeOut drill complete with first-aid scenarios, panicked parents playing roles, and surprise elements such as an unexpected fire in the classroom. This is the second year for a joint drill. During the first year, both schools gathered at their common soccer field for unification.
Each year, practicing the ShakeOut affords the students, teachers, parents and staff an opportunity to iron out mistakes, role play the decision-making process, and improve procedural planning. Actual practice of their earthquake response plan lends insight into what the schools need to implement or improve.
By seeing what goes wrong, they know what to work on, said Montessori in Redlands Head of School, Maura Joyce. "The more mistakes the better," she said of the drill experience.
Joyce said next year's joint drill will take the scenarios a bit farther to include the parent unification process.