Fleet Week a prime opportunity to get prepared 

This week, San Francisco will host our 30th annual Fleet Week celebration. The event is a great way for Northern Californians to honor the men and women serving in the United States Navy, Coast Guard and Marines. People will flock to our city to visit ships from the U.S. and Canada, view impressive military demonstrations and watch the dynamic performances of the Blue Angels, who are commemorating the 100th anniversary of naval aviation this year.

Last year, Fleet Week took on an even more significant purpose — a new focus on disaster preparedness and response. Now, it provides a valuable opportunity for emergency responders and the U.S. military to build relationships, train together and discuss the latest lessons learned from recent humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations. This special focus is geared toward enhancing the Bay Area’s overall level of
preparedness.

The City’s Department of Emergency Management recently sponsored a discussion-based exercise that revolved around medical response following a catastrophic earthquake in San Francisco. Specifically, the exercise looked at the coordination between local, regional, state and federal agencies. More than 160 people participated in the exercise, representing city departments, local and state government agencies, military services, first responders and our nonprofit partners. While an exercise like this gives us the opportunity to share perspectives with many of our first responder agencies, the main benefit is meeting one another before the next disaster happens. Building those relationships now will no doubt help us down the road.

We are using this as a chance to learn from one another. We’re learning how the military’s real-world experience in responding to global disasters, in such places as Haiti and Japan, translates at the local level. And, conversely, we’re learning how some of our local emergency functions and skills, like urban search and rescue, can help inform the military’s humanitarian missions.

Fleet Week’s focus on disaster preparedness extends beyond those charged with emergency response. Visitors to the Marina Green on Saturday and Sunday will have the opportunity to view a display of the military’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities. In addition, visitors will be able to find out how to get them and their families more prepared for any type of emergency. While the sights and experiences of Fleet Week are truly incredible, we also want to use the event as a reminder that every family needs to be prepared for a disaster.

For more information on all of the Fleet Week events, please go to www.fleetweek.us.

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Ed Lee

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