Thursday: County health and emergency-response teams conduct exercise


San Mateo County Health System staff will join local response teams in a large preparedness exercise on April 23 designed to practice how each group would respond during a major emergency.

The exercise will be held from 9 a.m. to noon.

In a major disaster, such as an earthquake, pandemic flu, catastrophic flood or prolonged power outage, these response teams will work to ensure the safety of residents, especially those who are vulnerable due to a medical condition.

The exercise, known as the Silver Dragon Emergency Exercise, will test the county health system's ability to partner with local cities, law enforcement, fire departments, the American Red Cross and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), which will go door-to-door to check on residents.

To test door-to-door checks, CERT teams will distribute educational information in reusable shopping bags to homes, simulating how CERT members will operate in a real event. This is the ninth year San Mateo County has conducted this type of exercise.

This year's exercise will be a joint effort of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and East Palo Alto Police Department. Teams of four to six CERT members will canvass neighborhoods in East Palo Alto.

The exercise will deploy and use the new CERT Command/Communications Trailer, designed for CERT resource management during emergencies. CERT teams will communicate using ham radio technology with live picture, GPS/APRS tracking and packet radio for digital communication. They will also set up an incident command post to practice the incident command system.

The purpose of the CERT program is to improve community preparedness and teach basic skills in the event of an emergency.

The goal is to help the residents be self-sufficient in a major disaster for at least 72 hours.

For more information on CERT training offered by the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, contact Carol Parker at 650-688-8415 or go to

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