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RCCD is set in case of a disaster

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By Javier Cabrera / Editor in Chief

By Javier Cabrera / Editor in Chief

In the early morning of Sept. 14, Riverside City College students taking morning classes were surprised by a 4.1 earthquake, which later was centered in Yucaipa.

With the threat of another earthquake striking at any moment like the one that morning, the fear remains in the minds of many RCC students and faculty as to whether or not a big earthquake might hit while they are on the campus.

In the past year and a half several major earthquakes have struck different locations around the world, such as the 9.0 earthquake in Honsu, Japan, the 6.3 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, the 6.9 earthquake in northwestern India, and the 5.8 earthquake that hit the East Coast last month.

The question still remains when the “big one” will hit in Southern California, since the region lays on the San Andres fault, which runs alongside the San Bernardino mountains and through the Cajon Pass toward the San Gabriel Mountains.

In light of all this, RCC has taken action to make sure it is ready for the worst in case some disaster occurs during the semester when students and faculty are on campus.

Sherry Stone, district emergency planning and preparedness coordinator for RCC, is in the center of the plans to make sure the college is ready for any disaster that may hit the region.

According to Stone, the earthquake that took place on Sept. 14 was a good sized earthquake, but it was not enough to cause damage and many students and faculty did not feel the earthquake, therefore, they were safe to remain in their classrooms.

“I teach in (my) emergency preparedness classes that instructors, staff members and students need to do three things in any emergency, and that is that they need to think about the best course of action in that emergency, they need to take that action to those around them and they need to get everyone to mobilize,” said Stone.

In the case of the earthquake RCC students and faculty felt on Sept. 14, she said Police Chief Jim Miyashiro as well as herself recommends everyone must keep in mind “when in doubt get out.”

“That’s kind of the philosophy we need to take,” Stone said. “If there’s any doubt just evacuate.”

“I can also understand in yesterday’s situation where some people never even felt it, some classrooms probably didn’t feel it and depending on what building you were in, you might have felt it a little more than others,” she said.

Stone said every building that houses students at every campus in the Riverside Community College District are fitted to withstand any earthquake, and that the district’s buildings fall under the “California Field Act,” which enforces the regulation to make sure the buildings are safe.

Although many of the buildings at Norco and Moreno Valley College are already built to hold together during a large earthquake, RCC has the Wheelock Gymnasium, which is an old structure and is currently under construction to meet the requirements to withstand any earthquake.

While the college’s buildings are prepared for any disaster, Stone is trying to get RCC faculty and students ready too.

On Oct. 20, at 10:20 a.m., faculty and staff are asked to practice the duck, cover, and hold on drill with students. Stone has been warning faculty to participate in the drill with their classes and asks students to encourage their professors to allow them to be a part of the drill.

“We have to have practice for an emergency,” Stone said. “It is really important we practice, that we train together and take we take it seriously.”

For students hanging out in the digital library during the time of the drill, they are expected to participate in a full scale evacuation drill led by Henry Bravo, instructional media center manager, where some RCCD administrators will be watching the drill take place outside the library.

“We know we look ridiculous (performing the) duck, cover and roll drill,” Stone said. “We know as adults getting under the desk, it is really small and we can barely fit under there but if we all do (the drill) together than we all can look ridiculous together.”

“We can laugh about it afterwards but the truth is, what we are training and doing can save our lives in the long run,” she said.

 

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