Alumnus develops Great Shakeout

La Verne alumnus and Director of Emergency Preparedness and Environmental Safety for Pomona Valley Hospital Steven Storbakken was an undergraduate 30 years ago. Over the past 10 years, Storbakken has made earthquake preparation for Southern California his main priority and is credited with co-creating the Great Southern California Shakeout. Storbakken said more than 20 million people worldwide participated in the earthquake preparedness program last year. / photo by Taylor Bolanos
La Verne alumnus and Director of Emergency Preparedness and Environmental Safety for Pomona Valley Hospital Steven Storbakken was an undergraduate 30 years ago. Over the past 10 years, Storbakken has made earthquake preparation for Southern California his main priority and is credited with co-creating the Great Southern California Shakeout. Storbakken said more than 20 million people worldwide participated in the earthquake preparedness program last year. / photo by Taylor Bolanos

University alumnus Steven Storbakken and a team of people from all different sectors developed an earthquake preparedness campaign, known as the Great Shakeout.

Storbakken graduated from the University of La Verne in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in health care management.

He worked at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center as director of emergency preparedness and environmental safety for five years.

Storbakken said he is still active with the University. He is part of the mentor program and has had at least a dozen interns from the University.

“I’m very proud to be back in this area and helping our local communities prepare for disasters,” Storbakken said. “This is where I’m hoping to make my biggest impact.”

In 2006, Storbakken attended an international earthquake conference in Seattle where he met seismologist Lucy Jones and discussed earthquake preparedness.

From there, Storbakken and a team developed the Great Shakeout earthquake drills, which was first held in Southern California in 2008.

“On the team, we formatted the idea of having people sign in on a webpage practicing drop cover and hold on,” Storbakken said. “The core concept of having a website that people could go sign up gave different industries the ability to get information.”

According to Shakeout.org, the Great Shakeout Earthquake drills are an opportunity for people to prepare themselves for an earthquake.

Most participants are located in official shakeout regions such as California, Washington, Utah, Japan and Puerto Rico.

“All we really wanted people to do was practice drop, cover and hold on,” Storbakken said.

For its efforts, the team was awarded the USGS Shoemaker Award in 2009.

The award is given annually for communication recognition on complex scientific concepts and discoveries that capture the public’s interest.

“Our team won it on our unique way of approaching it, now there are 10 of millions of people who participate in Shakeout around the world,” Storbakken said.

Storbakken is currently working on access and functional needs preparedness documentation for health care.

He said they are updating emergency operation plans to incorporate working with access to functional needs groups.

—Megan Sears

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