Get ready to drop, cover and hold on!

Oct 11, 2018 | News

Alexandra Sojo, Emergency Management Coordinator at Health Emergency Management BC (HEMBC), is well-versed in emergency procedures and logistics – her job demands it. But that wasn’t always the case. Alex was a university student on a family vacation in Chile where a major earthquake occurred on February 27, 2010.

“We were staying in a bungalow-type lake house in a rural area south of Santiago when we woke up to really loud, violent shaking,” Alex remembers. “It was so noisy, so intense.”

Alex’s family huddled together underneath tables and desks. Some ran outside. “The shaking was really violent and lasted for what felt like forever,” she says. “It was two and a half to three minutes, which doesn’t sound very long, but when everything is shaking, it’s a long time.”

When it was finally over, everyone assessed the house for damage and each other for injuries. “Luckily none of us were hurt,” Alex says. “But the most damage was in the kitchen. Everything that was breakable had broken. There were some fissures in the walls, too.”

Although that family vacation is now a distant memory, for Alex it reinforces the importance of emergency preparedness and the significance of taking part in emergency drills like ShakeOutBC.

“If I learned anything from my experience in Chile, it’s that it’s so important for us to be prepared – with emergency kits and supplies and also with the knowledge of what to do when an earthquake strikes,” Alex says. “Taking part in ShakeOutBC helps us build muscle memory so that when the time comes, we know how to ensure our own safety and that of our colleagues and patients.”

How can you be prepared?

  • Participate in the annual Great BC ShakeOut drill on Thursday, October 18 at 10:18 a.m. sharp. Get ready to drop, cover and hold on!
    • If you are not engaged in a critical function involving direct patient care, at 10:18 a.m., drop to the ground, take cover under a table or desk and hold on for 60 seconds as if a real earthquake was occurring.
    • While taking cover, look around and imagine what would happen in a major earthquake. What would fall? What would be damaged? What steps can be taken to make your environment safer? Consider what to do after the shaking stops.
  • If you would like to lead a unit-based or team activity after or before the ShakeOut drill, download the unit-based drill guide here.
  • Develop a plan for you and your family and talk about it so they know what to do if an earthquake happens.
  • Get a kit. Buy or put together supplies for an emergency kit with enough food, water and medication to last 72 hours (per person and don’t forget your furry family members!)
  • Familiarize yourself with your neighbourhood’s/city’s emergency plans. Look at your municipality’s website for links about emergency service information.
  • Secure unstable furniture in your workplace and home.
  • Take the emergency preparedness course on Learning Hub, course code is 18720. 

Knowing what to do before, during and after an earthquake can help save lives and limit the damage caused by it. Being properly prepared helps our community by ensuring that we continue to provide the best health care possible.


If you have any questions about emergency preparedness at your workplace, get in touch with your site’s HEMBC Coordinator or visit the Emergency Management page on PHC Connect here.

For more information on the Great BC ShakeOut and for other resources, visit ShakeOutBC and PreparedBC here.

On Twitter?

Follow HEMBC @BCHealthEM for emergency preparedness tips and resources that you can share with your network.


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