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Eric Shackle Writes: A Million Kiwis In Earthquake Drill

A million New Zealanders will be taking part in an earthquake drill later this month Eric Shackle reports.

At 9.26am on Wednesday, September 26, a million New Zealanders will take part in a unique earthquake drill, Mark Benthien, organiser of The Great ShakeOut predicts.

He says it will be “the first ShakeOut drill held nationwide in any country.” A month later, similar exercises will take place in the US, Canada and southern Italy.

“Official rescue teams who have been dispatched to the scene of earthquakes and other disasters around the world continue to advocate use of the internationally recognised ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ protocol to protect lives during earthquakes” says the ShakeOut website.

DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

“If there isn’t a table or desk near you, drop to the ground in an inside corner of the building and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms. Do not try to run to another room just to get under a table.”

A story by Ambrosia Viramontes-Brody on a University of Southern California website says: “The 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake that shook Southern California in 1994 did more than rattle Mark Benthien out of his bed at UCLA. It reaffirmed his commitment to earthquake preparedness.

“After that quake, which killed 57 people and injured 8,700 others, the applied geophysics major was responsible for placing seismometers in people’s backyards to record aftershocks.

“Talking to residents about their earthquake fears, Benthien decided to dedicate his career to helping save lives by increasing the public’s understanding of earthquake risk. Two years later he was hired to support education and outreach activities at the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) headquartered in USC Dornsife.

“‘When I was in high school I thought I needed to be a seismologist and predict earthquakes in order to help Californians be safe’, said Benthien, now SCEC’s director for communication, education and outreach, and executive director of the Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA) also based in USC Dornsife. ‘But in my work at UCLA I saw that there was a place for me in helping to communicate crucial information.’ Much of this work was on joint projects coordinated by SCEC, of which UCLA is a core institution.

“Benthien’s work preparing California communities and beyond for earthquakes — including promoting the “Drop, Cover and Hold On!” self-protection procedure as part of the Great California ShakeOut annual earthquake drill— has been recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the President Barack Obama administration.

“Benthien was among 17 leaders honored as a Champion of Change at the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19. All were honored for their efforts to increase public awareness in disaster preparedness.

“Being selected as a White House Champion of Change is a recognition of the success of many people brought together by SCEC over the past 10 years to deepen our partnership, create products and programs and motivate preparedness,” Benthien said. “I'm honored to lead the ECA and work with so many excellent people and partners.”

“The White House Champion of Change program recognizes citizens of all ages and walks of life for their exemplary work improving their communities. In Washington, D.C., Benthien joined fellow honorees in a discussion about how to best engage communities in emergency preparedness.

“’This past year we’ve been reminded that disasters can strike at any time and that preparedness is critical,’ said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, referring to the May 2011 tornadoes that ripped through Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma and Hurricane Irene that devastated the Caribbean and parts of Canada and the United States including North Carolina in August 2011.

“’We commend the innovative practices and achievements that these individuals bring to the field of emergency management in order to make our communities safer, stronger and better prepared,’ Napolitano said.

“Benthien joined SCEC in 1996 and developed ECA in 2003. Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey, SCEC is a center that partners with more than 600 scientists and more than 60 institutions worldwide to research and develop earthquake forecasts.”


The Great ShakeOut:http://www.shakeout.org/
Mark Benthien:


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