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Planning and designing drills and exercises should include representation from your whole organization or community. Perspectives from a variety of people’s experiences enhance the drill and exercise design, and create a more realistic view of what actually works and what does not – for all.
Organizations located in a tsunami hazard zone should consider planning for and conducting a tsunami evacuation drill or exercise in conjunction with (and immediately following) an EEW-focused earthquake drill or exercise.
Although EEW alerts may not directly announce an approaching tsunami, the earthquake itself serves as the tsunami warning for coastal communities. By constructing drills or exercises that deliberately pair protective actions to be taken when an EEW alert is received (e.g., DROP-COVER-HOLD ON or a modified protective action) with a tsunami evacuation drill or exercise, the association between earthquakes and the protective steps to be taken for a possible impending tsunami can be strengthened. (See infographic at right.)
For example, if your organization’s earthquake response plan involves an evacuation of the building after shaking stops, begin your drill or exercise with DROP-COVER-HOLD ON or a modified protective action. It’s best to begin by asking if participants are familiar with these protective actions; consider demonstrating them. Immediately after the drill or exercise, consider conducting an evacuation or fire drill, so participants will “learn” what to do after earthquake shaking ceases. Make it clear to participants that DROP-COVER HOLD ON and modified protective actions should be viewed separately from an evacuation after an earthquake; stress that an evacuation may only be necessary if it is unsafe to remain inside or if authorities instruct them to exit the building.
It is very important to avoid any conflicting messages in drill and exercise planning.
In Educational Settings
Test-Drill-Exercise Challenges in K-12 Environments
Typically, K-12 environments are individual schools that involve hundreds of children where different types of drills and exercises occur regularly (e.g., fire, active shooter, etc.).
Public schools are guided by school district policies as well as state policies and regulations, whereas private schools may not be required to conduct drills.
Relative independence of high school students could result in them being outside of a classroom setting during a drill.
Test-Drill-Exercise Challenges in Higher Education (Colleges/Universities)
Student populations at colleges and universities can vary significantly. Those with a large physical footprint and large student populations can make drills and exercises challenging to conduct.
As adults, college students can choose whether or not they wish to participate in on-campus drills and exercises. Additionally, participation often resides with individual professors, which can make participation spotty.
While state colleges and universities are subjected to state-mandated requirements for fire or evacuation drills, class schedules can make drill and exercise participation challenging.
In Free-Choice Learning Environments
Free-choice learning environments, such as museums and libraries, present unique challenges when planning for and conducting drills and exercises during operational during operational hours. This is because visitors will vary by their ability to take a protective action, their English proficiency (assuming an EEW message is broadcast over a public address system in English), and other factors.
Consider posting multilingual signage and infographics that advise and depict DROP-COVER-HOLD ON and modified protective actions throughout the facility.
Consider advising visitors when they enter that a test or drill is scheduled for a particular time that day and that their participation is voluntary but is encouraged.