Photo and Story By Omar Reyes / Staff Writer / Twitter: @salar0895

Edwin Escobar, 20, nursing major, takes cover under a ping-pong table as he observes the earthquake drill taking place in Student Union at PCC on Thursday, Oct. 22
Edwin Escobar, 20, nursing major, takes cover under a ping-pong table as he observes the earthquake drill taking place in Student Union at PCC on Thursday, Oct. 22

Drop, cover and hold on. The three steps were followed during a drill Thursday, Oct. 15, at 10:15 a.m. by LBCC students and employees on both campuses to practice how to stay safe in an earthquake.

The students were asked to simulate the steps as part of the statewide drop, cover and hold on drill and evacuation exercise.

“It felt like an action movie because you’re trying to hide for cover from a disaster and it was exciting,” recalled Edwin Escobar, 20, a nursing major.

The exercise was part of The Great California Shake Out, an annual statewide drill that started in 2008 to prepare state residents for earthquakes.

The drill practiced at LBCC’s campuses was coordinated and planned through the Office of Business Support Services in collaboration with Facilities, Public Relations, and the Long Beach Police City College Section, said Brendan Hayes, manager of Environmental Health and Safety Services at LBCC.

In an email released prior to the Shake-Out, teachers were given instructions for students on what to do during the event of an earthquake, which involved dropping to the floor, covering their necks and head with one hand while taking shelter under a desk or table and holding on to their shelter as the practice earthquake occurred.

Mario Vargas, a professor of elementary chemistry, was teaching his class when the drill occurred, postponing his planned mid-term.

Vargas said, “Everyone participated and they were enthusiastic about it. During lectures, we have small desks and students don’t really fit inside the desk. I told them just to hold on to their desks or chairs.”

He said the drill was effective and that he thinks “if an actual earthquake were to occur, most of my students would practice what we practiced.”

After a few minutes of taking cover, alarms were heard around the campus and everyone was evacuated into the parking lot. At the PCC, evacuations occurred at buildings AA, BB, CC, DD, EE, and HH. On the LAC, buildings V, Q, R and the Child Development Center and Learning Lab on Clark Avenue were evacuated when the building alarms sounded.

After about 10 minutes, the drill ended and students were able to return to their classes.

Hayes said, “The drill is a necessary component to our planning for and responding to such an event. It benefits the college community by encouraging and reinforcing safety awareness of all our members. It creates open discussion and dialogue throughout the college regarding personal and District responses to emergencies and catastrophic events. Evidence has shown that drills increase survivability in these types of incidents.”

After the drill, John Pope, the public information officer, and Hayes held a mock press conference. Pope said during the mock scenario, five students “suffered from minor injuries” from falling objects and no deaths were reported. He went on to say gas, water and power had been shut off.

More information is available by contacting Hayes at (562) 936-4797 or bhayes@lbcc.edu.