Approximately 100 volunteers who have trained as Community Emergency Response Team members gathered in Atherton on Saturday, Sept. 8, for a disaster drill directed by the Atherton Police Department and the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.
Residents of Atherton, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park took part, with additional participants coming from as far north as South San Francisco and as far south as San Jose. The drill scenario was a massive earthquake that closed local airports and hospitals and cut off road access to Atherton.
Participants practiced emergency missions including disaster assessment, communications, reconnaissance, triage, medical transport and treatment, and light search and rescue.
According to Atherton Police Chief Steve McCulley, the drill was “an outstanding example of the collaboration and effective emergency response capabilities of the Atherton Disaster and Preparedness Team (ADAPT), the Menlo Park Fire District, and the Atherton Department of Police.”
The Menlo Park Fire District also brought drones to use in the drill.
The Menlo fire district and local CERT teams drill several times each year.
Michael Ralston, the district's community crisis management program director, said the fact that so many people are involved and enthusiastically taking their own readiness seriously "can actually save lives."
"Every time a potential disaster impact is lessened, that frees up the finite emergency response resources to possibly help others who may be in greater distress," Ralston said.
Chief McCulley said emergency response volunteers "are a critical part of the police department’s emergency response and disaster recovery operations."
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