Berkeley unites for earthquake safety

Two community members discuss radios and disaster preparedness during Berkeley's annual city-wide disaster preparedness drill, which took place Saturday. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Two community members discuss radios and disaster preparedness during Berkeley’s annual city-wide disaster preparedness drill, which took place Saturday. Photo: Emilie Raguso

An estimated 2,000 people took part in a city-wide exercise Saturday to help community members prepare for “the big one.” About 35 neighborhood groups, along with local businesses, the Berkeley Unified School District and members of the Northern Alameda County Amateur Radio team, participated in the earthquake drill, which was organized by the Berkeley Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a program of the Berkeley Fire Department.

Residents learned a range of skills, from how to locate and map gas and water shut-offs, to how to use a garden hose to put out a small fire. They listened to radio station 1610 AM for an emergency broadcast, and signed up to receive test messages from the Berkeley Emergency Notification System via phone and email. They located their two nearest fire stations, and called out-of-area contacts to practice what they might need to do should a major earthquake strike. Runners from community groups took messages to amateur radio operators who work with the city to help facilitate communication should traditional methods fail. Teams of firefighters drove assigned routes throughout the city to assess potential “damage” to determine the most pressing problems. Afterward, they visited neighborhood groups to speak with community members.

And after the event, which ended at 11 a.m., about 150 community members came together in the Frances Albrier Community Center in San Pablo Park to share their experiences and talk about how to improve the drill next year. (See a slideshow from the event below. Mobile users can view the slideshow here.)

About 950 people registered online for this year’s drill, compared to 150 last year, which was the first year the city tried the exercise. A planning team made up of community members helped organize the effort in partnership with the Berkeley Fire Department. The group hopes to double participation in 2014. Residents who didn’t get to participate this year, but would still like to take steps to get prepared, can consult the individual and group activity handbooks (links below) to learn more.


More resources

Related:
Join the Berkeley-wide emergency drill April 27 [04.10.2013]

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