Two members of the emergency preparedness team serving Providence medical centers in the San Fernando Valley were among a dozen experts honored for their work planning the 2008 ShakeOut, a statewide earthquake drill staged in part at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center.
Steven Storbakken, director of safety for Providence Health & Services in the Valley, and Connie Lackey, manager of emergency preparedness, shared the U.S. Geological Survey’s Eugene M. Shoemaker Award in the multiple-project category for their work on The Great Southern California ShakeOut Campaign.
The award was presented last week in Menlo Park at an annual conference to recognize extraordinary effectiveness in communicating complex scientific concepts and discoveries to capture the interest of the American public.
Storbakken and Lackey, who oversee safety issues at Providence Holy Cross, Providence Tarzana and Providence Saint Joseph medical centers, were part of a team led by Lucy Jones, the USGS multi-hazards project chief. On the committee that planned the ShakeOut events, a true-to-life response to a major Los Angeles earthquake, were emergency management experts, communications officials, first responders, educators and private business representatives. Storbakken and Lackey were the only healthcare professionals involved in planning the drill.
Because of the group’s efforts, the ShakeOut became the largest drill of its kind in U.S. history, with more than 5 million people participating. At Providence Holy Cross, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa were among the officials who witnessed the hospital’s emergency team work with first responders in treating 300 high school students posing as quake victims.
The scenario, written by USGS earthquake experts, called for a magnitude 7.8 earthquake to hit Southern California along the San Andreas Fault. While the USGS provided the scenario, the Earthquake Country Alliance brought together many local organizations to create the idea, the promotion, and the execution of the ShakeOut drill on Nov. 13, 2008.
The drill was so successful it has become an annual event, with 6.9 million people participating in 2009. The next drill is scheduled for October 21.