Monday, June 1, 2009

Cutting Through Concrete and Steel

While we don’t have the frequency of earthquakes that California has, Oregon does have an occasional tremor. That’s hardly enough to keep the topic in our awareness. However, it should be. Experts predict there is a significant chance of a major subduction zone earthquake in an area off the Oregon coast within the next 50 years. Their prediction is for a magnitude 9.0 earthquake lasting four minutes with devastating results. There would be hundreds, possibly thousands, of buildings destroyed in such an event.

To prepare for such a possibility, Hillsboro Fire Department has trained Technical Rescue Technicians who specialize in Search and Rescue techniques in building collapse scenarios. These firefighters regularly practice the use of their heavy duty cutting tools to ensure readiness should the need arise. One recent drill involved the use of specialized hydraulic-powered chain saws, circular saws and jack hammers. Each tool is designed to allow firefighters to quickly cut through collapsed concrete and metal structures to reach patients trapped inside.

These drills are designed to refresh skills for veterans and provide rookie firefighters with the opportunity to train with this specialized equipment.
In case your memory has faded or you are too young to remember, it was in 1989 that California experienced a 6.9 magnitude earthquake that became known as the Loma Prieta Earthquake. And in 1994, the Northridge quake occurred. Both killed dozens of people.

If you are asking, what you should do to be prepared for a devastating earthquake, here is a basic list:

1. Create an emergency kit for your home that contains food, water, first aid kit, necessary medicines, and other essentials so that you can live independently without utilities for at least 5 to 7 days.
2. Create a family communications plan.
3. In the event of an earthquake:
a. First, remain where you are and “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.”
b. Prepare for aftershocks.

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