Disaster drill to mimic real chaos, test response quickness

In a race against time and amid simulated chaos, volunteers will pound the pavement for three hours to get emergency “medicine” into the hands of 3,000 San Mateo and Foster City residents.

Dubbed “Silver Dragon II”, the March 13 exercise will test the county’s ability to receive and distribute large quantities of medicine and medical supplies from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Strategic National Stockpile. The SNS was designed to provide immediate medical care after an explosion or bioterrorism attack.

Working with Foster City and San Mateo fire and police, as well as the county health departments, volunteers in brightly colored vests will go door to door in both cities from 9 a.m. to noon.

While they will hand out earthquake preparedness materials in place of medicine, the drill has been designed to mimic the chaos and confusion that would accompany a real disaster, said San Mateo County Health Department spokeswoman Beverly Thames.

County officials will gauge how many households the volunteers can reach in three hours and test communication using satellite phones, handheld and HAM radios.

The drill is the biggest of its kind in the area, Thames said. In January 2007, the health department coordinated with Foster City to conduct a similar drill, Silver Dragon, reaching 1,300 households.

“I think the biggest challenge this year for the health department was making the exercise more realistic, so we could get a better picture of how many households we could reach,” Thames said.

In an actual health crisis serious enough to deplete local supplies, medicines could be delivered by the federal government within 12 hours. The goal of the March 13 drill is to see how quickly those supplies could get into the hands of San Mateo County residents, Thames said.

While the exercise is a colossal coordination project, the organizing of volunteers and hammering out of logistics is being done by the fire departments, said Carl Hess, the county’s bioterrorism grant coordinator.

“The fire departments are extremely organized and experienced, so it’s easy to conduct a drill with them,” he said.

tbarak@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

After the pandemic hit, Twin Peaks Boulevard was closed to vehicle traffic, a situation lauded by open space advocates. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
New proposal to partially reopen Twin Peaks to vehicles pleases no one

Neighbors say closure brought crime into residential streets, while advocates seek more open space

Members of the Sheriff’s Department command staff wore masks at a swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Sheriff Tanzanika Carter. One attendee later tested positive. 
Courtesy SFSD
Sheriff sees increase in COVID-19 cases as 3 captains test positive

Command staff among 10 infected members in past week

Lowell High School is considered an academically elite public school. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Students denounce ‘rampant, unchecked racism’ at Lowell after slurs flood anti-racism lesson

A lesson on anti-racism at Lowell High School on Wednesday was bombarded… Continue reading

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23), shown here against the San Antonio Spurs at Chase Center on January 20, was ejected from Thursday night’s game on a technical foul after he yelled at a teammate during a play. (Chris Victorio for the S.F. Examiner).
Warriors 119-101 loss to Knicks highlights Draymond Green’s value

Team struggles with fouls, lack of discipline in play

Scooter companies have expanded their distribution in neighborhoods such as the Richmond and Sunset districts. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA board signs off on changes to scooter permit program

Companies will gete longer permits, but higher stakes

Most Read