The Hazelwood School District students were among the 2.9 million people in nine different states who participated in this year’s event, making it the largest earthquake drill ever.
The crew of Hazelwood firefighters visiting McNair Elementary School consisted of Capt. Mike Eiseinbeis, Randy Crump, Gerard Hagedorn, and Mark Wellman. They gave a brief presentation to the children in Ms. Kenna Valentine’s kindergarten class before the announcement was made to start the earthquake drill. The kids learned the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” technique and the reasons why it’s important for them to help their parents put together an emergency preparedness plan and supplies. The firefighters also gave them some time to ask questions.
At Russell Elementary School, Hazelwood firefighters accompanied the principal, Patrick Lane, and his staff as they roamed the halls observing the earthquake drill in different classrooms. They also practiced an evacuation drill after the one they did for earthquakes to remind students what to do in case of a fire. The crew of firefighters on-site included Battalion Chief Randy Getz, Jim Cacciabando, Mike Martin, and Kevin Pruellage.
“The reason why we participate in the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is to educate our residents about how to prepare themselves to survive and recover from a big earthquake,” said Hazelwood Fire Chief Dave Radel. “When an earthquake occurs, people only have seconds to protect themselves before the strong shaking knocks them down or something drops on top of them. Practice doing the ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ technique each year helps them to be ready to respond and react quickly.”
The Hazelwood Fire Department also encouraged City employees to participate in this year’s event. In addition to emailing them an instruction sheet on what to do when an earthquake hits, an alarm was broadcast over the public address system in each of the municipal buildings at 10:15 am.
The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is coordinated by the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium and its Member and Associate States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Geological Society and dozens of corporate partners. The event is held on February 7 because it’s the anniversary date of the last of three powerful New Madrid earthquakes that struck the Midwest with a magnitude of 7-8.0 on the Richter Scale in the winter of 1811-12.
At the time, the region was sparsely populated and there was very little infrastructure. Centered in northeastern Arkansas and the Bootheel of Missouri, the earthquakes destroyed the town of New Madrid, Mo., created Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee, and were felt as far away as Washington, D.C. Were they to happen today, these earthquakes would cause massive injuries and loss of life, in addition to widespread property damage and disruption to the nation’s economy and urban environment.
Scientists estimate that there is a 25-40% probability of a damaging earthquake occurring in the central U.S. within a 50-year window of time. The ShakeOut is designed to help individuals and communities get ready for these earthquakes, practice how to protect themselves, and to prevent disasters from becoming catastrophes. The U.S. states participating in this year’s event include Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.