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DALLAS — The Great Oregon Shakeout was on Oct. 17, 2019, but the city of Dallas is still considering ways to make evacuations safer and more efficient.

Each year, more than 630,000 people in the Willamette Valley participate in the statewide drill, which is supposed to mimic an earthquake. The goal is have people learn to safely evacuate from their workplace or home if the Big One — or a not-so-big one — were to happen.

“ShakeOut drills provide the annual opportunity to practice how to protect ourselves and become better prepared; equally as important — they prompt more discussion about community preparedness,” Dallas Police Chief Tom Simpson wrote in his report to the Dallas City Council dated Jan. 6.

A 2- to 3-second sounding of the siren on city hall kicked off the drill, signaling to employees to “drop, cover and hold.” After one minute, they began evacuating the buildings, including city hall, the police department, fire station, library and ambulance station.

Simpson said except for a few minor glitches — the announcement was difficult to hear and a hand-held radio failed — the exercise was a success.

“All facilities were reported evacuated in less than three minutes for the time the evacuation order was given,” Simpson wrote.

Simpson said participants in an after-action debrief in December suggested that employees be made aware of the different types of earthquakes the Northwest region can experience, and whether that should change evacuation protocol.

“There was also an important discussion relative to the imperative of knowing the nature of the earthquake threat potential in our region, specifically the different types of shaking to be experienced during a crustal earthquake, as compared to a substantial subduction zone earthquake; and, the importance of quickly recognizing the difference and knowing whether to cover and hold or rapidly evacuate if possible,” Simpson said.

The next Great ShakeOut exercise is scheduled for Oct. 15. In the meantime, Simpson and Fire Chief Todd Brumfield are planning a fire drill for employees of city hall.

City manager Brian Latta said that given the ShakeOut happened during a Dallas Municipal Court day, the drill was quick and smooth.

“We got out of out of here pretty quick. I was pretty happy with the results of that,” Latta said. “We look forward to doing more drills throughout the year, so we can surprise our employees with more alarms.”

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