The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Earthquake Drill at the U Will Shake it Off

The U will hold an earthquake drill on Wednesday to test the campus alert system.

The drill is part of a four-day emergency response exercise on campus from Nov. 3 to 6 called “Vigilant Guard Utah 2014.” The event is in collaboration with Utah’s National Guard and the Division of Emergency Management.

Marty Shaub, the managing director for environmental health and safety at the U, said in the case of an actual earthquake in the Wasatch region, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 students will be stuck on campus. She hopes to make those students a “priority” in her planning.

“We live on an active seismic region,” Shaub said. “Ongoing continual earthquake preparedness education and mitigation is prudent for all of us.”

The event will be different from the campus earthquake drills held in conjunction with the statewide shakeouts that happen in the spring. Shaub said the emergency response is practice for first responders but is also a way to create more public awareness of the conduct that needs to take place in an emergency event.

She said the main priority of Vigilant Guard is also to practice setting up a shelter for the people who wouldn’t be able to leave campus in a natural disaster. The operation will be set up along the HPER walkway. According to the U’s Emergency Management website, “during the scenario, the U community will see emergency response crews and vehicles on campus, including a helicopter that will land on Stillwell Field in Fort Douglas.”

Some venues, buildings and resources on campus will be made available for the National Guard to practice with Campus Police in conducting security sweeps of facilities.

Shaub said the earthquake drills began about a decade ago when the Federal Emergency Department Agency constructed a hazard assessment and determined that the Salt Lake region on the Wasatch fault was a high danger point if an earthquake took place. At the U, the campus-wide earthquake drills started in April 2012, and Shaub said she’s seen a difference on campus as a result.

“There’s been a cultural and awareness shift on campus,” Shaub said. “Earthquake means evacuate, and people are starting to get that message.”

She said students should “drop, cover and hold” if the ground begins to shake and to be wary of aftershocks. When the earthquake is over, she recommends heading to a safe place. Shaub also said she feels the U’s infrastructure is sturdy enough to weather an earthquake.

“The campus physical environment is significantly safer than it was 20 years ago,” she said. “Additionally, I’m seeing our population’s awareness enhanced every year with each drill, so we’re all individually better prepared.”

Sierra Krippner, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, said she feels living in the Salt Lake area means having to get acquainted with the reality of the inevitable.

“We live on a huge fault line, and a lot of people don’t know that,” Krippner said. “It’s important for everyone, in-state and out-of-state, because a lot of us haven’t ever experienced a natural earthquake or aren’t acquainted with having these types of drills.”

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