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Victoria elementary students shake it out for earthquake preparedness

Search and Rescue dogs were also on scene to participate in the earthquake drill

Students at Ecole Quadra Elementary School had a different lesson on their class agenda Thursday morning: earthquake preparedness.

For the 2018 B.C. ShakeOut, students participated in a simulated earthquake drill by taking cover under their desks, and then proceeding to their meeting spot in Topaz Park, taking an alternate route when “wires” were down on the usual path.

While students gathered in the park, Search and Rescue dogs trained by going through the school, helped find staged staff and students in the halls.

READ MORE: City of Victoria to host emergency preparedness workshops throughout 2018

“We’re practicing more than one aspect of the school emergency plan, so we’re taking it a step above just getting under your desk, drop, cover, hold on,” said ShakeOut emergency and crisis response manager Marketa Lund. “We’re practicing what if’s – what if the primary evacuation location was blocked from the school? What if there was a student or teacher trapped?”

Lund said people also need to prepare for what happens after an earthquake happens.

“The most important part of the thing is, what happens to the kids if they don’t get picked up right away?” Lund asked. “So as a parent, if you can’t come to school right away, who’s gonna pick up your child?”

Greg Kitchen, associate superintendent for School District 61 was happy that more unique aspects could be practiced.

“It’s very important to practice so it becomes second nature and also so we can work out some of the bugs,” he said. “Having the added practice of the dogs gives the dogs the training, it builds the confidence with the students and community around if a student would be lost or trapped in a building that we have processes in place.”

READ MORE: Room for improvement in Esquimalt when it comes to disaster readiness

For Hunter Wilfred Lund, a student who volunteered to hide for the SAR dogs to find him, it was a good experience.

“It was loud at first, I was a little shocked because the dog came up to me and barked and licked my face,” Wilfred Lund said. “It gives the dogs more training with kids, not just with adults, so with kids and in schools.”

At the end of the day, students felt that the adventure helped them feel more prepared.

“It was kind of cool because the police were there and they blocked off all the traffic for us,” said Seidra McColl, who added that it was important to do the drills. “If you didn’t know and an earthquake happened you’d say ‘What do I do?’”

Her Grade 2/3 classmate agreed.

“I think it was pretty fun,” Austin Gogol said, “If you didn’t practice you wouldn’t know what to do.”

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Students from Ecole Quadra Elementary hide under their desks as they participate in the B.C. Shake Out Earthquake Drill (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Elementary School Student from Ecole Quadra Elementary return from their meeting area at Topaz Park after participating in the B.C. Shake Out Earthquake Drill (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)