Administration emphasizes survival preparedness

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DSC_0605It could happen today.
Marshfield High School, along with the community, is preparing for a large earthquake predicted to hit in the future. According to science teacher Jonathan Hill, there is a one in three chance an 8.0 earthquake will occur sometime in the next 50 years.

“There is a much larger chance of an 8.0 or larger earthquake hitting than a school shooting,” Hill said.

In preparation for this disaster, Marshfield has asked each student to bring a safety backpack to keep at school. Each backpack should include a pair of wool socks, three bottles of water, a space blanket and a small first aid kit. This information was released late last summer on Marshfield school supply lists.

According to a recent survey, seven percent of Marshfield students purchased these items, including sophomore Bryann Hansen. Hansen said she saw the requirements on the supply list and figured they were necessary for her safety.

“The school is liable for our safety,” Hansen said. “If something happens you have to kick into gear and just be calm.”

Senior Caleb Kyllo said economics may be a major reason for such low numbers of students purchasing packs.

“It’s like health insurance,” Kyllo said. “You don’t necessarily need health insurance, but you’ll be in a rut if you get hurt. I think this is the same thing,”

The packs are being stored in the drama lab for now, but Hill said the school hopes to eventually have large storage bins to keep them in, labeled with the names of the students who brought them. The supplies will be distributed back to their owners within the first 24 hours of an emergency.

Along with being responsible for all students in a state of emergency, Marshfield is also the evacuation site for downtown Coos Bay. At this point, emergency evacuation plans are still being formed for both Marshfield and the community, according to Dean of Students Greg Mulkey.

The estimated time of arrival for emergency personnel from out of town to get to this area is about four to six weeks, so students and community members must be able to sustain life on the things they have and are provided until help arrives.

“Water is our biggest situation,” Hill said. “People can go a few days without food, but we need water.”

Hill said a grant is being written for $250,000 to help with emergency equipment, such as food, water and first aid needs.

The district is in the process of acquiring two to three 2,500 gallon containers of water to be kept, which is expected to last only a couple of days in an emergency situation. Hill said research is being done about getting large crates to store foods such as Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) or power bars for students and community members.

Mulkey is the emergency administrator for Marshfield and is in charge of all emergency drills. Drills are being planned for practice this school year to prepare students for what could come.

“I don’t think anybody needs to be in fear,” Mulkey said. “We just need to work together.”