California ShakeOut: Aftermath of
emergency earthquake drill studied

October 21, 2015
Santa Paula News

It’s been about a week since it struck but officials still don’t know what the magnitude was of the earthquake that was felt worldwide on October 15 at 10:15 a.m. 

“There wasn’t a number, we just simulated the aftermath of a destructive earthquake,” said Santa Paula Fire Assistant Chief Dustin Lazenby who was the Incident Commander for Thursday’s Great ShakeOut.

People around the world are urged to practice how to Drop, Cover and Hold On — the latter to prevent the chair or table they are under from moving away — during the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill, which began in California in 2008 and now is international.

But the city, and the Santa Paula Unified School District had a full emergency response with reports of buildings damaged, people injured, utilities off and infrastructure destroyed.

“We simulated emergencies throughout the city enough so each department could respond,” and act how they would be expected to act during an actual disaster. 

The school district Lazenby added also took part with classroom evacuations, reports of fire at Isbell Middle School and a building collapse at the historic “Campus on the Hill” high school.

Lazenby noted about 30 city employees participated from the finance and planning departments to recreation, public works, IT, building and safety as well as police and fire. 

Using public works as an example, Lazenby said such exercises “gives them the opportunity to think of some areas that are concerns or to take care of during an actual incident,” whether power outages, broken streets, destroyed water mains and other impacts from a disaster.

“All is taken into consideration,” but Lazenby said a main component of any disaster is communication.

“A lot of these exercises focus around making sure all our communications are up to date, and we all work together,” to ensure the city can stay in touch not only with its own departments and personnel in the field, but also with the county’s Office of Emergency Services.

During an emergency, information is exchanged and mutual aid given when and where needed.

“We have to make sure that connection is made,” during the drill which also tightens the relationship between the city, county and other agencies that would be working together during a disaster.

And that includes tightening the bond of city employees: “Everyone,” said Lazenby, “does their own part…

“Overall,” he added, “I think it went very well. Part of the reason to have these drills is to pinpoint areas that need to be improved in an actual emergency, but overall it went very well.”

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