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Earthquake Education in Los Angeles Schools

DWP at Gulf Ave Elementary School

Every year, MySafe:LA produces and conducts a significant earthquake drill during the annual California Great Shakeout. Our drills involve a combination of students, teachers, and first responders.

This year, we’ve expanded our efforts beyond the Shakeout. Continuing education related to earthquake preparedness and survival is an essential component of community and family readiness in our siesmically active environment.

On May 26, we took our new “demonstration” program to Gulf Elementary School in Wilmington, California, an industrial/residential section of southern Los Angeles. The idea was to bring a group of service and response professionals together in an educational setting, sharing tips, tricks, and how-to information with fourth and fifth grade students. An introductory presentation would be delivered in the school auditorium, followed by a multi-station rotation for students on the large playground.

Kicking the day’s activities off, LAFD Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas made a special presentation to the students. He talked about growing up in Wilmington (he attended Gulf Elementary School), the importance of sharing key information with each student’s family, and the key issues related to earthquake safety. Everyone in the auditorium was highly responsive to the Chief — and he was clearly pleased to be back at his old stomping grounds.

Fire Chief Ralph M. Terrazas

Once the auditorium presentation concluded, the students relocated to the playground, where six stations had been set up. The students were separated into six groups. Every 12 minutes, the students rotated from one station to the next.

The Department of Water and Power brought big trucks, a terrific interactive display, and talked up the key safety messages related to downed power lines and accidental electricution avoidance.

DWP truck at Gulf Elementary School

Southern California Gas demonstrated the importance of shutting the gas off following an earthquake, and answered questions about gas appliances.

Los Angeles School Police were on hand with several motor officers. They talked with the kids about campus security and what to expect if an earthquake were to occur while students were in class.

LAFD Public Service Officer, firefighter and K9 handler Margaret Stewart was there with her search dogs. She demonstrated how the dogs work after an earthquake. It was one of the most active stations during the morning program.

Dr. Jeffrey Upperman, from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles spoke to the students about injury avoidance. MySafe:LA moulaged students with various injuries and Dr. Upperman shared humerous but pointed tips on what to do if injured during an earthquake. MySafe:LA EMTs participated in the discussion, simulating patient care and demonstrating how to interact with a first responder if required.


The members from Fire Station 38, the “first in” fire company brought their fire engine and rescue ambulance and talked with the students about the fire department’s actions in the event of an earthquake. They also showed off the equipment on their apparatus and answered a wide array of questions from students.

MySafe:LA collaborated with the CalOES to teach Drop, Cover, and Hold On, and to answer questions from students about what to do in the event an earthquake occurred while on the playground, at the mall, in a moving car, or in a movie theater.

Kids drop cover and hold on during a drill at Gulf Avenue Elementary School

Overall, It was a great morning. Everyone learned something, and key messages about surviving an earthquake were taken home to families throughout the southern L.A. area. Look for our next event in the coming few months – and of course we’ll continue with our big Shakeout drill in October. Have you registered for the Great California Shakeout. Join the millions who participate every year. To learn more, click here.

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