WSU to prepare for earthquake

Weber State University will hold an earthquake preparedness event, Shake Up, Friday night and Saturday afternoon to supplement the statewide Shake Out event on April 17.

Friday at 7 p.m., WSU geosciences professors Adolph Yonkee and Michael Hernandez will discuss the Wasatch Fault and the hazards that come with living near a fault line. WSU Chief of Police Dane LeBlanc will speak about the preparations WSU has made for catastrophe response.

The Earthquake Preparedness Fair will be held Saturday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m in Lind Lecture Hall.  The fair will feature lectures, prizes (including 72 Hour Kits), candy, earthquake simulations, shake tables, booths and more.

“In June of last year, we had a Science Saturday for tectonics, or earthquakes, and we just got a lot of questions from parents and a lot of people wanted to know more information,” said Sara Yearsley, president of Sigma Gamma Epsilon, a national Earth science honor society.  Sigma Gamma Epsilon is sponsoring the Shake Up with WSU’s Department of Geosciences.

“It was surprising how much people didn’t know about the hazards of earthquake, right here,” said Amanda Gentry, president of the WSU geology club.  “In the next 50 years, there is a 95 percent certainty that there’s going to be a magnitude 7 earthquake in Salt Lake.  It’s going to happen, and a lot of people don’t know.”

Yearsley and Gentry said their main goal is to equip students and other community members with the knowledge of how to prepare for an earthquake and how to deal with the aftermath.

The Shake Up will be a precursor to the statewide Shake Out on April 17, when WSU’s standby Emergency Operation Center will complete an exercise on emergency procedures as if an earthquake happened at 10:15 a.m.

“Everything we’re trying to accomplish is in an effort to avoid any disruption to any of the academic activities that day related to that event,” LeBlanc said.  “We’re going to evacuate a few buildings, but they’re not academic buildings, and there’s no academic testing center in any of them.”

There are 30 to 40 people from different areas on campus that form the EOC, LeBlanc said.  During the Shake Out, the EOC will assemble and begin identifying immediate objectives.

“Say an event just happened. The immediate objection would be life, safety and property,” LeBlanc said.  “You’d take care of those things first, and then you’d start moving into recovery.”

The EOC will discuss and react to the hypothetical earthquake.  They will assess how many people were injured, how to divide medical resources to help them recover, how to shelter students and provide them with food and water, what buildings were damaged and how to repair them, and more.

The EOC is comprised of a logistics group, a finance department, a communication department, a planning and operations department, and liaison officers.

The logistics group is responsible for accounting for employees, bringing in resources to manage the incident and more, and is run primarily by WSU’s facilities management.  This group includes people from the IT division, the Dee Events Center and transportation.

The finance department is responsible for purchasing supplies and necessary equipment to deal with a crisis.

The communications department is responsible for issuing press releases, rebooting the university website if needed and managing an information call center.

The planning and operations department is primarily composed of law enforcement and is responsible for immediate planning on how to move into a recovery phase or additional resources to help operations.

Liaison officers are responsible for obtaining outside resources.

“The resources are so limited that we need to be prepared as an institution to get by for 72 hours by ourselves with only the equipment, resources and people that we have here before we would start seeing help from the country, state or federal government,” LeBlanc said.

According to LeBlanc, the goal of the Shake Out from a state level is to bring awareness down to the individual level and ask everyone to do their part in being prepared to survive what could be a catastrophic event.

“As a state and as individuals, if we don’t prepare, we can make it a catastrophe.  The more prepared we are, the less of a catastrophe it could be,” LeBlanc said.

To learn more about the earthquake preparedness events, visit