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IU to conduct first all-campus disaster-preparedness exercise

Oct. 12, 2016

IU will conduct its first tabletop disaster exercise in which staff from all IU-administered campuses work together to solve problems. The Oct. 19 tabletop activity, centered on a catastrophic earthquake, precedes the IU ShakeOut on Oct. 20 -- brief earthquake drills on each campus as part of the national awareness program.

Keep calm and ShakeOut

Invited staff from all the campuses will meet at IUPUI to work through how they would prioritize the response to a major earthquake that caused significant damage to some of the campuses. | GRAPHIC BY HEATHER FARMER

During the drills, which are expected to take 10 to 15 minutes, students, faculty and staff should stop what they’re doing to “Drop, cover and hold on,” even if they are in class. Protect IU, the website for Public Safety and Institutional Assurance, includes details about what to do before and after an earthquake, as well as other emergencies.

The tabletop exercise illustrates a maturity of IU’s emergency planning processes systemwide. In order to conduct a systemwide exercise, a series of campus-level exercises (active shooter, hazardous material spill, etc.) were conducted to familiarize staff with duties and expectations. Invited staff from all the campuses will meet Oct. 19 at IUPUI to work through how they would prioritize the response to a major earthquake that caused significant damage to some of the campuses. The exercise was designed over the past year by the IU Emergency Management and Continuity staff.

“It’s important for us to know how to react to a variety of dangerous situations, such as a tornado, which struck across the street from the IU Kokomo campus this summer, and to earthquakes,” said Mark Bruhn, associate vice president for public safety and institutional assurance.  “All of us involved in the planning and execution of these exercises and drills believe they are vital to the safety of the university and our community members. We’re fortunate to have certified experts on our staff to help us all.”

Earthquakes in the United States are often associated with California. However, some of the strongest U.S. earthquakes in recorded history occurred in southeastern Missouri within the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which spawned two major temblors in the early 1800s that could be felt as far away as New Hampshire. In addition to this zone, the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone encompasses parts of southwestern Indiana and the adjoining portions of Illinois and Kentucky. Movement along faults within this zone have resulted in a number of small-magnitude earthquakes in historical times.

Since 2001, three earthquakes registering 5.0-, 5.2- and 5.8-magnitude, along with numerous smaller ones, have occurred in or near southwestern Indiana.

“We are at the crossroads of two major seismic zones, and research has told us that if either of those experience a quake over 7.0, we could be in for some catastrophic damage across Indiana, especially southern Indiana,” said Diane Mack, director of IU Emergency Management and Continuity. “The drill also reminds us to review emergency kits, which are as important for earthquake preparedness as they are for tornadoes and other emergencies. Special consideration might be given to having shoes, a flashlight, extra cash and a first-aid kit to be ready for any hazard.”

The IU ShakeOut is part of the series of awareness programs held across the country. Indiana is part of The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut.

Students and staff will receive an IU-Notify message indicating when the earthquake drill begins and again when it ends. During a real earthquake, it’s unlikely that an emergency alert could be sent before the shaking ends, so it is important to know what to do when the ground starts shaking.

When indoors, drop, cover and hold on:

  • Drop to the floor under a sturdy desk or table.
  • Cover your head and face with your arms.
  • Hold onto something if possible.
  • If suitable furniture is not nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall and cover your head and face with your arms.
  • Stay clear of windows, bookcases, shelves, mirrors and fireplaces.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • If possible, extinguish any open flames or sources of ignition immediately.

When outside:

  • Get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines.
  • If driving, pull over to the side of the road, stop and stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over.
  • Avoid overpasses, bridges and power lines.

If the earthquake has been severe, do not attempt to cross damaged bridges, overpasses or damaged sections of road.

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