The Great Utah ShakeOut 2012

In November 2011 I attended an Alliance for Response workshop which matched emergency and cultural managers throughout the state in finding ways to respond to emergencies including fires, floods, and earthquakes. My interest stems from my preservation course with Randy Silverman, Preservation Librarian at the University of Utah and Emporia State Instructor who also hosted the event. I learned a variety of things that day including that our library really needed an emergency plan. But that is another post.

The best thing I learned at the workshop was that Utah was going to participate in a statewide earthquake on April 17, 2012 appropriately titled The Great Utah ShakeOut. I approached my director at Highland City Library if he was interested in participating. This then went to the weekly city meeting where it came back that both the city and library would participate in the earthquake drill.

I signed up the Highland City and Library to participate in The Great Utah ShakeOut with me as the main contact. My interest also caught the attention of our Assistant Librarian who is in charge of children’s and youth programming. She decided to create an entertaining and educational puppet show for the kids to enjoy and the teens to put on for a Family Storytime the day following the drill.

While the story-time was being coordinated I worked on an Information Sheet for our staff to review giving up to date information on the best way to Drop, Cover, and Hold On. My goal for the drill was to give everyone basic information or tips, things to think about for their safety both at the office and at home, and make the event enjoyable experience. The drill would then follow a level one protocol of making people aware of safety procedures and convincing people to crawl under their desks. No problem . . .

Shortly before the event we began advertising awareness of the drill through bookmarks, flyers for the Family Storytime, posters throughout the building, pamphlets available at the city desk, and an earthquake book and video display in the library. I was happy to note that many patrons had heard about the drill and the kids were all versed on earthquake drills in school.

On the day of the event I had to cross from the library and trust their participation to the city side with a small bullhorn siren and convince the confused looking staff to participate. Most seemed game and some did comply with the drill. I got a picture of City Recorder Gina Peterson participating and Library Assistant Deborah Olsen demonstrating their techniques of taking cover during the drill.

Gina Peterson

Deborah Olsen

After the all clear was sounded everyone got a sherbet stick or what I referred to ask ShakeOut candy to thank them for their participation including one young patron who was at the library for regular story-time. As a follow-up I also sent out an Aftershock email to remind participants about where they were relative to the rest of their families during the drill and promoted texting during emergencies versus trying to tie up phone lines.

All in all I believe our drill was a success as to the awareness level I was trying to create. The Family Storytime earthquake puppet show was such a success that one child was heard to say, “Again, again.” My director was pleased and wants to go further next year which will take extra planning on my part, and a willingness of the city to shut down the building for a full evacuation drill. It sounds like fun to me!

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