In case of disaster drop, cover, hold

By Ari Yuki
On October 6, 2011

With so many earthquakes happening around the world, ASU officials are aware of the importance of earthquake preparedness.

"They [ASU official] should be aware of that because Jonesboro will definitely feel the effect of an earthquake," said Ashraf Elsayed, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.

He said Jonesboro is located within the New Madrid Seismic Zone, sometimes called the New Madrid Fault Line, which extends from Cairo, Ill., to Marked Tree, and has one of the highest levels of seismicity in the United States.

Elsayed is engaged in research about earth, soil and rock in the area of east Arkansas and west Tennessee, which are included in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

"As an engineer, I have to be involved in the design of buildings and facilities to accommodate earthquake impacts," Elsayed said.

Elsayed said there are three steps students should initially take during the earthquake: "drop, cover and hold."

Elsayed said students should drop to the floor first, take cover under a sturdy desk and hold on to the desk until the ground stops shaking. "That is the most recommended technique," Elsayed said.

Deborah J. Persell, associate professor and coordinator for the Regional Center for Disaster Preparedness Education, said, "In the event of an earthquake, the first thing that average students have to have is a plan."

She said students need to think about where they might be, how they behave and how they contact people and let somebody know they are safe in the event of the earthquake.

ASU has a disaster operation plan, Persell said.

As a part of that plan, ASU participated in the National Level Exercise 2011 in May. It is six-hour simulated disaster drill including evacuation and simulated medical treatment.

In addition to that, Persell said ASU safety precautions include a building code, which was legislated in 2001, to make changes to older buildings so they will withstand an earthquake.

Persell said because buildings still might fall, the safest area during the earthquake is outside in open spaces.

She said as soon as the ground stops shaking, students should get out of buildings and go outside.

She also mentioned if a major earthquake occurs, the campus will most likely be closed. She said, however it would be a temporary closure, depending on the size of the earthquake.

Students might be recommended to meet at other places that are available if the campus is shut down, Persell said.

The campus will provide medical care for those injured in the earthquake. "We would prioritize those who are the most injured and have to have the first treatment," Persell said.

Persell and Elsayed agreed about the importance of collecting information on earthquake preparedness. Elsayed recommended students visit the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management website for information.

"They will give you a lot of information about what to do and how to prepare and these kinds of things," Elsayed said.

The Regional Center for Disaster Preparedness Education on campus offers 93 courses on personal preparedness such as Core Disaster Life Support, Basic Disaster Life Support and Advanced Disaster Life Support.

"It's for anybody," Persell said.

In spite of the efforts of the regional center, most people still might not know much about earthquake preparedness.

"I don't know if ASU is prepared for an earthquake. I feel as if they aren't," said Stephanie Diaz, a senior business administration major of Jonesboro.

"I'm really worried about the occurrence of a great earthquake in the near future," Rika Suzuki, a junior accounting major of Nigata, Japan, said. "I expect ASU to prepare evacuation centers, emergency food, blankets and the necessary things at the time of the earthquake disaster."

Dylan Budolfson, a junior computer science major of Osseo, Wis., said, "I do expect that they will respond to the disaster and do everything in their power to help after the event."

"I wish more students knew where to get information about disaster preparedness," Persell said.

She said she puts out some information on the ASU Daily Digest about earthquake preparedness and what classes the regional center offers.

"I expect that the administration will have a short seminar that basically makes people aware of the earthquake," Elsayed said. "We've already done some, but we need to continue."

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