A large (simulated) earthquake shook downtown Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows this morning (Thursday) in the Great Shakeout.
Patrons and staff at the Greg Moore Leisure Centre in Maple Ridge evacuated the building. Those in the pool, including little ones, exited the water and stood on the deck.
Staff at both the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment and Maple Ridge Municipal Hall evacuated and gathered at Civic Square, the emergency meeting area outside Haney Place Mall.
In Pitt Meadows, staff and the mayor were under their tables as the minute-long earthquake simulation took place at City hall.
After the earthquake was over, the City hall was evacuated with the two safe wardens securing the building. Roll call was taken outside, and it was discovered one staff member was missing.
After a thorough search of City hall, the staff member was found in a (simulated) medical condition in the handicap bathroom.
Across the province, thousands of people were taking part at exactly 10:18 a.m. in the simulated earthquake hit.
Canada’s largest “fake quake” drill involved an estimated 600,000 people. ShakeOut BC gave participants an opportunity to practise the drill of “drop, cover and hold on,” a critical first step for B.C.ers and their families.
At the sound of marshals’ whistles, Maple Ridge civic staff quickly found cover under their desks before exiting the building.
Ceri Marlo was among those staff members. The district’s manager of legislative services, who oversees its emergency management program, said preparation and knowledge will keep you safe in the event of an actual natural catastrophe.
While your first instinct may be to run outside of a building, it’s important to remain calm and follow the “drop, cover, and hold on” rule.
“It’s extremely important to stay safe if you know this simple drill,” Marlo said, adding, “It may be safer inside than outside in some instances. You may have to evacuate if the building is compromised, such as an obvious gas smell or a fire.”
Brad Perrie, assistant fire chief for Pitt Meadows and part of the emergency coordination team for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, was in charge of the Great Shakeout at City hall.
The earthquake drill is good practice in case a real earthquake should strike. But also it lets staff members assess the safety around their work stations, for example, if there are unsecured pictures or bookshelves.
“A lot of people get information in an earthquake from falling debris, hence drop, cover and hold on,” Perrie said.
Perrie pointed out that the province is in an earthquake zone and could be hit at any time.
“The potential for a large earthquake to shake is realistic – it’s there,” he said.