West Point CA – Local residents will want to be aware that more than two dozen agencies, nonprofits and companies will take part in a multi-agency dual disaster drill this Thursday that has been nearly a year in the making.
The exercise, which will run from about 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., involves more than 200 people and a full complement of fire and rescue resources, according to Dennis Lewis, a director of the exercise. Lewis, who also serves as the Calaveras Emergency Response Team (CERT) program manager and Calaveras County Citizen Corps chair, says the drill will focus in the West Point and Pioneer areas. Its objective: to have Calaveras and Amador counties’ counterparts work in tandem to jointly tackle a purported “wildland fire” in the Mokelumne River watershed and an “accident-related” structural disaster on the Middle Fork Bridge that will require the Red Cross to conduct cross-county “emergency evacuation operations” for residents.
“This is our fourth year of doing [a drill] and this is our first year that we’ve done such an elaborate practice of not only fire policies and procedures…but working together,” Lewis explains. Responders will include state and local fire, law enforcement, emergency services and transit districts, CERT, Red Cross, Sutter Amador and Mark Twain St Joseph’s hospitals, ambulance services, and behavioral health and social services. According to Lewis, volunteers, recruited from Stockton will act as “civilians” for the exercise.
“Nine times out of ten until there’s an emergency and we don’t know what each other’s policies and procedures are,” Lewis states. “That’s one of the reasons why we are practicing, to flesh out and tweak the things that have to be tweaked, so they can work better – or change those that need to be changed because they don’t work, especially when you have multiple agencies working together. That way, we can all be on the same page…not sending mixed signals during a disaster…so residents can have all the correct info at the right time.”
Lewis notes that next year’s drill that will involve Calaveras and Tuolumne counties is already on the drawing board and will begin in early May.