A Talk With Mark Benthien
We recently spoke to Mark Benthien from the Southern California Earthquake Center about the upcoming Great ShakeOut, which has over 7 million participants.
How did the Shakeout Start?
Mark Benthien: What started as a major exercise of emergency responders in Southern California has grown into the largest earthquake drill ever created. As of this writing, there are 7.1 million Californians participating in the 2011 Great California Shakeout.
In 2008, prior to California’s “Golden Guardian” exercise about a major San Andreas earthquake, our partners in the Earthquake Country Alliance asked themselves “how can we get everyone else to get ready for earthquakes?”
Thus, the Great California Shakeout was born, and has now expanded across the country. Emergency responders can do incredible things to solve problems after an earthquake, but what can you do? You can prepare, practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On, and picture yourself in an earthquake.
How did you get to 7 million + participants?
Mark: All schools in California are required to have earthquake drills, so schools are encouraged to participate directly and make up the bulk of participants. We need to get every parent we know to get involved with their kids’ schools involved with the shakeout. The private schools are especially important as they tend to participate less.
But we also encourage all other businesses, government agencies, and other organizations to participate also. Many that participate in the ShakeOut have never held earthquake drills.
If you click on http://www.shakeout.org/all_participants.php you see a great breakdown by type of participants, and also who is participating in local areas across the state.
What effect did the earthquake in Virginia have on preparedness?
Mark: The event in Virginia certainly drew attention to the issue, and many have suggested that there should be a Mid-Atlantic ShakeOut soon. But at this point, however, this is only in the discussion stage.
- Check out these videos with footage from past earthquakes used to promote the ShakeOut
- Want to hear the drill or run your own drill on ShakeOut day? Download these drill broadcasts as MP3′s
- Shared stories from previous Shakeout events
Flickr CC-licensed photo from PursueThePassion