Duck and cover!

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County Courthouse employees were brought to their knees — their hands and knees, really — by an earthquake drill Thursday morning.

About 275 workers dropped, ducked beneath their desks and held on for 10 seconds as Emergency Management Department employees sounded hand-held boat horns at 9:45 a.m. Then they got to their feet and — along with courthouse customers — evacuated the building.

“I think we need an Elvis song,” said one woman, “‘Shake, Rattle, and Roll.’ ” Actually, Fats Domino recorded that rock ‘n’ roll hit, but nobody was being picky.

Courthouse doors and parking lot entrances were roped off, and appointed employees shepherded everyone to the Vern Burton Center parking lot across the street.

Gathering according to departments in designated areas, workers waited while other employees counted heads and confirmed that everyone was present. Meanwhile, supervisors were the last to leave, checking their offices and locking them before they too walked outside.

When the drill was done, they returned to work. It had been kind of fun, especially since it wasn’t raining.

Back inside, Joe Ciarlo, emergency management director, said the drill had gone smoothly — considering it hadn’t been The Big One.

“Really excellent” was his pronouncement on the morning’s mock emergency. Employees had taken it seriously and followed directions.

Some had heard the boat horns coming and had dropped and covered before his team checked their offices. “It was kind of spooky to see nobody there,” he said.

Drop, cover and hold in place until the shaking stops: It’s replaced the old conventional wisdom of sheltering in a doorway or against a load-bearing wall.

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