Millbrae City Staff Drill for Major Earthquake During Yellow Command Exercise
On Thursday, the City of Millbrae joined with San Mateo County and dozens of cities throughout the Bay for the Yellow Command emergency response exercise. During the day-long event, City staff and local CERT volunteers acted as though a major earthquake had struck Millbrae, then deployed emergency operations out of the Chetcuti Community Room and the city manager’s office.
“Thursday’s exercise gave City staff an opportunity to address the major challenges they may have to face in a disaster,” said Emergency Services Coordinator Bill Reilly. “It’s through exercises like this, and from the disasters that other cities have faced, that we can develop practical quick response plans to better serve our community in the wake of a major disaster.”
Upon alert of the mock earthquake, City staff and personnel from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and Central County Fire were deployed to the command centers, where they quickly set-up operational units. Each unit collected subject-specific information and coordinated response efforts like first aid and fire suppression, the distribution of food and water, and building inspectors to check the integrity of buildings and vital infrastructure.
“The exercise went really well, but it was apparent that training like this is necessary because we are rarely exposed to citywide emergencies like this,” said Rose Velilla, a management analyst who participated in the emergency exercise. “There were a lot of things we needed to learn from practice, but we got into a good rhythm and were able to quickly coordinate and deploy vital resources.”
Off site, 20 CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) volunteers deployed an emergency shelter at Fire Station #37. From there, they simulated relief efforts for those displaced by the mock earthquake, distributed food and water, and supported people in need of “help.”
“It became quite clear during the fires that ravaged Sonoma and Napa last year that we always need to be prepared for potential disasters,” said Reilly. “It’s not if, but when an earthquake or other natural disaster will occur. That’s the reality of where we live. Exercises like Yellow Command give us an opportunity to practice and update our emergency plans so we are ready when it happens.”
The Yellow Command Exercise was sponsored by the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative, a coalition of more than 100 cities and counties whose mission is to protect against, respond to and recover from catastrophic events.