Earthquake Drill Simulates Real Danger

RENO, Nev. - The screams of pain and cries for loved ones filled the McQueen High School gym Thursday morning as first responders and emergency crews gathered outside.

Its was all part of a simulated exercised designed to give rescue crews a taste of what to expect if a 7.0 earthquake struck Northern Nevada.

"We want to test it in worst case scenario," Duane Lohn said. "We know if we can close the gaps there it will work at other locations."

Lohn works for Risk Solutions International. The company partnered with Washoe County agencies to put the state's emergency plans to the test.

"Nevada was the first state in the country to develop and all-hazard, template based plan," Lohn said.

The plan has response plans for about 50 different scenarios- from earthquake to active shooter- and meet all of the guidelines from FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security.

Lohn says our emergency response plans are some of the best in the nation and the state of Connecticut is looking at Nevada's emergency plan after the tragedy in Newtown.

But back at McQueen High, students and community members volunteered their time to make sure the plan on paper translated into real life.

"In this area, you're only going to have one of two things, either a wild land fire or an earthquake," Ross Berry, a volunteer victim said.

Tracy Moore, Washoe County School District Emergency Manager said he'd like to see these full scale drills at least once every 3 to 5 years.

"Even with some of our newer buildings, if we have an earthquake over 6.0, there could be major damage," he said.

Participants in the drill say the higher stakes put everything into perspective.

"Normally it's just the fire drill or the earthquake drill at school but it's not to this extent," McQueen High sophomore Cadey Mclellan said. "This is actually really, really different than what I'm use to. I've done this before, but I wasn't all decked out in fake blood and stuff so it's actually pretty exciting."

"I think we're probably better prepared than most people think, Berry said. "Especially with what happened at the Reno Air Races, and they handled that so well."

But even the best laid plans face some challenges.

"I think trying to have a full name and accountability. We tried to do that, but they cam in a mass mob," Nancy "It's a learning experience. I think we did okay. I think we're going to learn some things we can improve on."


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