It Wasn’t A Drill: Duck and Cover

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) website, a 6.2 earthquake shook parts of Alaska at 9:51 AM on September 25, 2014. Its epicenter was 80 miles Northwest of Anchorage, Alaska and 58 miles West Northwest of Willow, Alaska.

At the time of the quake, schools were in session and at Dimond High School, the staff called for everyone to duck and cover.

Dimond’s Assistant Principal of Curriculum Frank Hauser said, “When the shaking started happening I responded to the duck and cover as an administrator.”

The administrators want to “make sure that we are communicating with each other. We want to call the Duck-Cover, [which is] obviously not a drill.”

The administrators also want to “make sure that students and staff are safe. We have to make sure that we ourselves are safe because we are a part of the response team,” Hauser said.

If there is a situation where recovery or search and rescue needs to be done, the administrative staff would be the ones in charge “so we want to make sure we are safe as well,” Hauser said.

Dimond Principal Tina Johnson-Harris said, “Procedurally, we knew that someone needed to get on the intercom and say ‘duck, cover and hold,’ even though it is our instinct because we practice it over and over again.

Hauser said, “Even though it is pretty clear that there is an earthquake going on, we want to make sure and remind everyone [to duck and cover] because in an emergency situation sometimes our minds start behaving differently than we are used to and we are not necessarily thinking as clearly.

“Once things started seeming like, okay, the main shaking was done, then we started looking around to make sure the building is safe,” Hauser said.

While the school was in the duck and cover, the administrators checked to be sure the building did not have water damage, checked for loose lights or tiles in the ceiling and made sure the building was structurally sound.

After everything had been checked, everyone was released from the duck and cover.

There were some books that fell off the shelves in the library and a couple of tiles were shaken around in the ceiling, Hauser said.

During the earthquake, Johnson-Harris was in the office of Greta Ingram, a member of Dimond’s security staff.

“We all took cover under a small desk,” Johnson-Harris said. “I was under kind of a desk that comes out from the wall where she has her computer and then two other kids from the hall joined me under the desk.”

Dimond Librarian Suzanne Metcalfe said, “There weren’t many people in [the library]. There were only five of us in here.

“It shook a little and we all said ‘Oh, little shaker’ and then we all said ‘Oh, that’s still happening.’ And then books started falling off and we all crammed in under the circ desk.”

“Luckily, there weren’t a lot of people in here. Luckily it wasn’t at lunch when there’s 90 kids in here spread out all over and we might not have enough tables for people to get under,” Metcalfe said.

“I don’t really know much about the power outage. I know there was a surge, of course. In that situation we called a stay put because we are not sure why that happens.

“We just had a very large earthquake. One of the largest ones I remember and I’ve been in Alaska for almost 30 years,” and the staff wanted to ensure the surge didn’t happen because of something that could harm the students, Hauser said.

Johnson-Harris said, “I was very proud that kids were cooperative. Kids weren’t panicking, teachers were very controlled with their students and even with the stay put.”

Senior Lilly Bee said the earthquake was interesting, but she wasn’t scared.

“It was actually pretty funny because we weren’t sure if we should duck and cover or not.”

Before the announcement to duck and cover was made, Bee’s class questioned whether they should get under the desks.

“Then it shook harder and we were like, ‘Yeah, let’s duck.’”

Senior Breanna Jingco was in the same classroom as Bee during the earthquake. Jingco said she thought the earthquake was fun.