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Students Participate in Earthquake Drill

By Laura Bannon
By lbannon@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - Earthquakes can happen at any time and are impossible to forecast. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency plans an earthquake drill once a year to ensure that in the event of an earthquake, students and staff are prepared.

This was also part of a nationwide earthquake drill and more than 700 students at the Thelma Barker Elementary School, dropped, covered, and held on.

First grade teacher, Joy Sanders felt prepared for the event and was confident after the drill. "We have so many policies and procedures in place and we rehearse them frequently enough that kids go calmly through these drills and know what to do," said Sanders.

When the announcement is made or even students feel shaking, there are three major steps that are taken. "As soon as we hear that, students know to get under their desks for protection and to get away from anything that could fall on them. so they get under their desk and we calmly and slowly begin counting," said Sanders.

Counting to 60 is a good time frame because on average earthquakes last anywhere from 3 to 45 seconds. So counting takes your mind off the shaking from the earthquake and possible destruction occurring around you.

"We want our students to remain calm so they don't overreact and that they are able to think through the situation and act appropriately. We don't want them to panic and then freeze and not fully take cover," said school principal, Teresa Tritt.

Earthquakes are not as common here in West Tennessee, we are positioned near a major fault zone, The New Madrid. No major quakes have happened from this zone in more than 200 years.
In the event of a major quake, the soft ground surrounding this zone, could transmit energy much further and cause more damage compared to other fault zones.

The goal of schools practicing these drills is to ensure that they are prepared for any natural disaster that may occur.

"It's just not memorizing the information that we teach in school but truly think. To think critically so that they save themselves and have a greater understanding of the world around them," said Tritt.

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