At precisely 10:17 a.m. on Thursday, about 200 employees for the city of Albany will react to an earthquake.
As part of the Great Oregon ShakeOut, city employees will be practicing the correct procedures to follow should a major earthquake strike the area.
“Of course we wouldn’t have that kind of precise notice if a real one hit but this is about seeing the process and making assessments,” said Darrel Tedisch the city’s emergency management specialist.
Oregon’s ‘ShakeOut’ is part of a worldwide drill that will include an estimated 19 million people. In Oregon 200,000 have signed up to participate.
For Albany it is the first time that the city has taken part. Tedisch said plans are in the works for a much more elaborate drill in 2014.
“This time out we’ll get the basic information flow covered and then we plan to have a full-scale simulation,” he said.
On Thursday the drill itself will take about a minute to complete. Tedisch said that employees have been receiving instructions from the Fire Department on the proper method of dropping down, covering up and holding on.
Once completed with the drill, employees will go back to work. Department heads will then provide a simulated report describing numbers and types of injuries, building damage and other information to the City Manager.
Tedisch said that follow up discussions between departments will review the process and determine procedures.
“In a real event some things like making a phone call on a land line may not be possible. We’ll have to create a series of alternatives that could eventually come down to a runner taking the information to the City Manager,” he said.
Ultimately the participation will lead to coordination of information and activity with hospitals, Red Cross and county offices.
Next year’s simulation will deal with emergency coordination, public inspection and inspections.
“It would be about getting information out to the media and the public and inspecting damage to bridges, roads and buildings,” Tedisch said. “It would likely be five hours or more to complete the simulation.”
The only other Linn County sites signed up for the event on Thursday are the Sweet Home Charter School and the Scio School District.
The popularity of events seems to be growing according to state officials. Last year 160,000 participated. This is the third year the ShakeOut has taken place.
Dave Stuckey, director of the Office of Emergency Management for the state said that according to scientists a magnitude 9.0 or greater earthquake will hit the state within the next 50 years.
“The state will have a major earthquake sometime in the future,” he said. “It’s critical that we know what to do when the big one hits.”
Tedisch said participation for the drill is voluntary for city employees but most have gotten on board.
The program is sponsored by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management through FEMA. Businesses, schools, agencies and individuals can still become involved. For information on participation go to www.Shakeout.org.