Active participation by the population of Atacama during an earthquake and tsunami drill

Since 2011, the “Chile Prepared” Program seeks to promote a culture of prevention and self-care in the community, preparing it for various emergencies.
From the Caldera Commune Railway Station, this morning, the Regional Presidential Delegate (s), Jorge Fernández; together with the National Director of ONEMI, Ricardo Toro; and his regional pair, Roberto Muñoz; began the fourth earthquake and tsunami evacuation drill on the coastline of the Atacama Region.

The exercise was activated at 11:50 am through the sirens of the emergency agencies, which for two minutes emulated a magnitude 7.9 earthquake off the coast of Atacama. This process was reinforced through messaging from the Emergency Alert System (SAE).

The main objective of the exercise focused on the evacuation process of the communities that were below the 30-meter level above sea level during the execution of the drill.

Through the development of this drill, which was added to the prevention work carried out in 2010, 2013 and 2018; and within the framework of the centenary of the Vallenar earthquake, ONEMI intends to promote a culture of prevention and self-care in society, seeking to involve the different actors of the community to achieve high public participation, and thus improve response times in the face of a possible emergency, in order to increase the attention and participation of citizens.

Preliminary figures provided by field evaluators indicate that nearly 22,000 people mobilized to the 129 Meeting Points established along the region’s coastline.

Regarding the development of this exercise, the Atacama Regional Presidential Delegate pointed out that “the evaluation of this exercise is very positive, here it was demonstrated that there is knowledge and awareness of how to evacuate. And in that sense, I think the evacuation was good, but it must continue to be reinforced because we are in Chile, the most seismic country in the world.”

“Our objective with this type of drill is to be able to see and treat all the edges, see the positive and what we can improve, as well as make a survey of how the evacuation was on the coastline where we do not have a city, to know if the people received the messages and make sure they are aware of taking the initiative and knowing when to evacuate,” added the Delegate.

For his part, the National Director of ONEMI indicated that “I would like to highlight the fact that, in a tsunami risk area, people have to know what to do, and for example, make their own decisions when they cannot stand up, which is the main signal that they have to evacuate to their meeting points.”

“A community has to learn to live with risk, and this type of activity is the only thing that will ensure that tomorrow people can safeguard their lives. Within this, I want to highlight the importance that the population, when they can, evacuate with their emergency backpack, because they can stay at these meeting points for several hours, and having the basics before the help of the State arrives is essential “, the authority added.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Caldera, Brunilda González, stated that “we are in the most seismic country in the world and also in a region that has a history that weighs us down, such as the great earthquake of 1922 that caused human losses and the destruction of practically 70% of the Atacama Region, and a percentage of destruction of 80% of the entire essential structure to understand the public, such as hospitals”.

“Today we are understanding that history can repeat itself, but it cannot surprise us, that is why this is of vital importance, because prevention and self-care are fundamental in what the culture of a highly seismic country means”, finished.

This new exercise carried out by ONEMI allows the development of prevention strategies in the communities in the face of possible emergencies and is part of the “Chile Prepared” Program, which, to date, has mobilized more than 11 million people nationwide. All the information related to this program can be found on the website and in the Chile Preparado Viewer, where recommendations are also available to deal with seismic events and tsunami risks, volcanic eruptions, meteorological events and other threats.

Active participation by the population of Atacama during an earthquake and tsunami drill