There was no ducking under desks.
But make no mistake. The drill that took place Thursday at the Manteca Civic Center is a critical part of the city’s effort to be prepared for a major earthquake.
Manteca’s firefighters, police and city personnel were among nearly 10 million Californians statewide that participated in “The Great California Shake Out”.
While most drills involved having office workers, school children and others react to an “earthquake” at 10:19 a.m. by engaging in “drop, cover and hold on” drills, Manteca opted to simulate the potential carnage and have first responders and others stabilize the scene of a major building collapse and rescue victims.
The last quakes originating beneath San Joaquin County soil that were strong enough to be felt were in 1881 and 1940. Both were near Linden. Experts also say another fault known as the “San Joaquin Fault” runs for 18 miles along the base of the Coastal Mountains may have a potential for a quake in the 6.3 to 6.7 Richter scale range.
There is no active fault know to run beneath Manteca.
Semiologists say California is overdue for a major quake along the state’s high profile San Andreas Fault that runs beneath the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles Basin.
The United States Geological Survey records earthquakes daily in the state. Ina snapshot on Sept. 20 devices recorded 18 California earthquakes in the previous 24 hours, 164 earthquakes in the previous seven days, 692 earthquakes in the previous 30 days, and 8.246 earthquakes in the past 365 days. The vast majority aren’t felt by people due to their low intensity.
Manteca’s drill took place at 3:19 p.m. to assure maximum participation by city staff. The “earthquake” triggered a simulated falling roof that trapped dozens of teens.
As nine Manteca firefighters were rushing to the scene, city staffers evacuated their offices and gathered in front of the City Council Chambers awaiting direction if it was safe to return to work
The members of the police department responded to the “quake” by first taking cover under their desks until the shaking stopped not knowing if their roof was about to cave in on top of them. Officers then went outside and got away from the buildings near their offices until hearing an all clear that it was safe to go back into the building. They were then shown an earthquake preparedness video reviewing the appropriate safety procedures.
Among the teens trapped by the fallen roof, two “died” before firefighters arrived. Others were bloodied and were being triaged before firefighters crawled into the remains of the wooden structure. Backboards were slid in between the rafters. Students were carefully rolled onto them and carried out to a triage area near the city’s preschool area to determine who was the most seriously injured.
The volunteering students were from Cheryl Behler’s CTE Life Science class, mostly from Manteca High except one from Sierra High School.
Battalion Fire Chief Bill Canfield said the drill dealt with two immediate patients and eight “delayed” patients suffering moderate injuries in addition to the two dead.
“I was in Fairfield during the big Bay Area earthquake and was 7 years old (at the time),” participant Katherine Ordonez. “My mom grabbed me up and I didn’t know what was happening. We felt the tremors as my mom ran down the stairs with me in her arms and held me under an archway to protect me.”
Among participating students were Manteca High students Daisy Hernandez, Ciana Benson, Servil Orocone, Celyste Herrera, Natalie Garner, Jasmine Duenez, Sabastian Sanchez, Alexis Yanga and Alexandria Garcia. Also participating was Sierra High student Amaya Baluyut.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email email@example.com.