By Eric Shackle
Million Kiwis in Earthquake Drill
- At 9.26am on Wednesday, September 26, a million New
Zealanders will take part in a unique earthquake drill, Mark Benthien,
organiser of The Great ShakeOut predicts.
- He says it will be “the first ShakeOut drill held nationwide in
any country.” A month later, similar exercises will take place in the
US, Canada and southern Italy.
- “Official rescue teams who have been dispatched to the scene of
earthquakes and other disasters around the world continue to advocate
use of the internationally recognised ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ protocol
to protect lives during earthquakes” says the ShakeOut website.
DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.
- “If there isn’t a table or desk near you, drop to the ground in
an inside corner of the building and cover your head and neck with your
hands and arms. Do not try to run to another room just to get under a
- A story by Ambrosia Viramontes-Brody on a University of
Southern California website says: “The 6.7-magnitude Northridge
earthquake that shook Southern California in 1994 did more than rattle
Mark Benthien out of his bed at UCLA. It reaffirmed his commitment to
- “After that quake, which killed 57 people and injured 8,700
others, the applied geophysics major was responsible for placing
seismometers in people’s backyards to record aftershocks.
- “Talking to residents about their earthquake fears, Benthien
decided to dedicate his career to helping save lives by increasing the
public’s understanding of earthquake risk. Two years later he was hired
to support education and outreach activities at the Southern California
Earthquake Center (SCEC) headquartered in USC Dornsife.
“‘When I was in high school I thought I needed to be a seismologist and
predict earthquakes in order to help Californians be safe’, said
Benthien, now SCEC’s director for communication, education and outreach,
and executive director of the Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA) also
based in USC Dornsife. ‘But in my work at UCLA I saw that there was a
place for me in helping to communicate crucial information.’ Much of
this work was on joint projects coordinated by SCEC, of which UCLA is a
- “Benthien’s work preparing California communities and beyond
for earthquakes — including promoting the “Drop, Cover and Hold On!”
self-protection procedure as part of the Great California ShakeOut
annual earthquake drill— has been recognized by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) and the President Barack Obama administration.
- “Benthien was among 17 leaders honored as a Champion of Change
at the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19. All were honored for
their efforts to increase public awareness in disaster preparedness.
- “Being selected as a White House Champion of Change is a
recognition of the success of many people brought together by SCEC over
the past 10 years to deepen our partnership, create products and
programs and motivate preparedness,” Benthien said. “I'm honored to lead
the ECA and work with so many excellent people and partners.”
- “The White House Champion of Change program recognizes citizens
of all ages and walks of life for their exemplary work improving their
communities. In Washington, D.C., Benthien joined fellow honorees in a
discussion about how to best engage communities in emergency
- “’This past year we’ve been reminded that disasters can strike
at any time and that preparedness is critical,’ said Secretary of
Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, referring to the May 2011 tornadoes
that ripped through Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma and Hurricane Irene
that devastated the Caribbean and parts of Canada and the United States
including North Carolina in August 2011.
- “’We commend the innovative practices and achievements that
these individuals bring to the field of emergency management in order to
make our communities safer, stronger and better prepared,’ Napolitano
- “Benthien joined SCEC in 1996 and developed ECA in 2003. Funded
by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey, SCEC
is a center that partners with more than 600 scientists and more than
60 institutions worldwide to research and develop earthquake forecasts.”
The Great ShakeOut:http://www.shakeout.org/
Mark Benthien: http://news.usc.edu/#!/article/29295/Mark-Benthien-Honored-by-White-House