Mike Drummond briefs students at the Quake Shack while Jared Woody assists.

Mike Drummond briefs students at the Quake Shack while Jared Woody assists.

An earthquake simulator has been visiting Southeast communities the past few months. It made two stops in Ketchikan.  A few third graders at Fawn Mountain Elementary School share their experiences.

The State of Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management brought the simulator to Southeast. Its purpose is to let people experience what it’s like to be in an earthquake, and educate them on what to do in the event of an earthquake or tsunami. Mike Drummond of the division briefed students before starting the simulator.

“This is the earthquake simulator. Remember we want you to sit in the seat, hold onto the handle tightly, and watch the movie. If you start flopping around, I’ve got to shut it off. Remember, in an earthquake, ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On.’” (video audio, kids screaming)

News TileDrummond says the Quake Cottage can be adjusted to simulate a range of magnitudes. If the shaking seems too strong, and students are having trouble staying in their seats, operators lower the intensity. For a group of Fawn Mountain third graders, Drummond simulated an 8.0-magnitude quake.

Natalie Hancock says she was a little scared before entering the simulator.

“Because I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I didn’t know how hard it would shake, so I was pretty afraid.”

Natalie says it was actually fun.

Carson Holstrom describes his experience.

“It had a lot of shaking, and we had to hold on to this handle. The video was weird (Why was it weird?). Because people were getting out of their cars and running around outside.”

The shaking lasts about a minute.  Soft objects fall from shelves and a video shows what it would be like for drivers and pedestrians if a large earthquake hit. In the video, objects, and people, crash into car windows.

Evan Dash called the video “creepy.”

“Because there was a taxi, there was a lady driving it, and then blood went all over the door.”

While the students seemed to have fun, the simulator has a purpose: to teach people what to do in an earthquake. All I spoke to say they were glad to know what a big earthquake feels like.  Natalie says she learned from the experience.

“Drop and grab on to something. Grab on to your desk if you’re at school or at your house, drop under the table and grab the table leg.”

Drummond says if a quake lasts more than 30 seconds, there is also the possibility of a tsunami wave.

(siren) “That’s a tsunami warning. If you’re down at the port, down next to the water and you hear that, what do you do?”

Evan remembers.

“To go to high ground, no matter what.”

About 300 Fawn Mountain Elementary School students, from preschool to sixth grade, participated that day.