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Lafayette County EMA Speaks Out on Earthquake Preparedness

By Lillian Hardee, Fran Kirdy, Kenney, and Caroline Simrall
IMC Students

If the area was hit by an earthquake, University of Mississippi first responders would coordinate with local and state emergency management agencies, police, firefighters, and other first responders to keep everyone as safe as possible.

UM emergency coordinator Amanda Drew, trained in safety and disaster preparedness, said she would coordinate with Lafayette County EMA and Oxford EMA if an earthquake hit here.

“Earthquakes aren’t like tornadoes or hurricanes,” said Steve Quarles, of the Lafayette County EMA. “You don’t know they are coming.”

At 10:17 a.m. Thursday, millions of people worldwide will participate in The Great Shakeout drill to learn how to respond when an earthquake hits, said journalism associate professor Kristen Swain.

“Everyone is advised to stop, drop and hold on,” she said.

Swain’s IMC 205 class is coordinating a local preparedness campaign called Hotty Toddy Shakeout.

Quarles and his team help keep the city of Oxford safe, he said. His agency must judge the severity of each emergency and figure out the safest ways to proceed. For instance, before reentering their homes after an earthquake, people should first turn off electrical, water and gas lines in case they were disrupted during the shaking, he said.

Counting on local support during a disaster from multiple departments, agencies, leaders and managers allows everyone to feel safer on campus, Quarles said.

Throughout the fall, Swain’s class is producing the campuswide “Hotty Toddy Shakeout” campaign, which includes student-produced educational content on social media sites to encourage everyone at UM to prepared for a potential earthquake, she said. For more information about this campaign, visit ‘shakeout’ on Twitter and Instagram or “Hotty Toddy Shakeout” on Facebook. Or follow this link to learn about Thursday’s international Great Shakeout drill.

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