We’re Participating in the ShakeOut … Are You?

Posted at 11.55 a.m.

When the earth shook on Aug. 23, 2011, we did not expect it. An earthquake affecting Fairfax County?

Yes, we all experienced a real earthquake and many of us simply did not know what to do.

In the 14 months since that earthquake, Fairfax County Government has been working to enhance our policies, practices and procedures so we’re ready the next time an earthquake strikes. Earthquakes have been included in our Emergency Action Plan (EAP) template and every county worksite has updated its EAP to include earthquake response. Additionally, all employees have received information about the most appropriate earthquake response –“Drop, Cover, and Hold On.”

Has your business, faith community or other type of organization taken extra steps to prepare? What about in your home? Have you considered what preparations are needed in advance of a no-notice earthquake?

Great Southeast ShakeOut, Thursday, Oct. 18, at 10:18 a.m.If not, then you have a chance to get started this week with the Great SouthEast ShakeOut drill. More than 1 million people from Maryland to Georgia have registered for the drill this Thursday, Oct. 18. You can join us – your government — as one participant to help ensure that our whole community is taking steps together to prepare. The ShakeOut will occur wherever you are — home, school, work or play — simultaneously in Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

“By participating in this large-scale earthquake drill, our residents and employees alike have empowered themselves to prepare for and survive a potentially dangerous event,” says Teri Flynn, Fairfax County Government risk manager. “Everyone shares the responsibility of employee safety to include the safety of those residents that use our facilities to conduct business or receive services. However, ensuring there are basic principles of survival with a solid, universal plan in place was a major change to our process.”

Over the past several months, our Risk Management Division adopted a more robust and time-tested EAP template for its county EAP template. This was shared with all county agency Emergency Action Coordinators to ensure our hundreds of county worksites (with 12,000 employees and thousands of daily visitors) have a current plan. The Risk Management Division, along with the Office of Emergency Management and Office of Public Affairs, have been communicating on how to participate and coordinating employee participation in state/regional drills such as the Great SouthEast ShakeOut and the Statewide Tornado Drill in order to test plans.

Last August, many of us simply didn’t know what to do. We’ve been working to improve preparedness and response plans since then. Come this Thursday at 10:18 a.m., our government employees will know how to respond.

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