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February 5, 2013 > Mayhem, Destruction, and Chaos: Community Prepares for the next Loma Prieta

Mayhem, Destruction, and Chaos: Community Prepares for the next Loma Prieta

Almost 24 years after California's Loma Prieta earthquake, Bay Area residents wonder when the next big quake will hit. Unitek Education's lead EMT Instructor Eric O'Neal remarks on the importance of preparing for impending disasters in the Bay Area:

"After seeing the aftermath of major disasters like Hurricane Sandy and Katrina, it's no wonder that emergency services were overwhelmed. People cut-off from power and communication have to already have a plan in place; it's too late after a disaster hits."

Unitek Education and O'Neal decided action must be taken to better prepare their EMT students to respond to a similar disaster. Focusing on effective, high-impact disaster training spurred the creation of the upcoming mass-casualty training scenario called Operation Rolling Chaos. This not-for-profit event will incorporate multiple agencies and is set to take place Sunday, February 10.

"Leaders and emergency response teams in hindsight never say, 'we were 100% prepared.' Operation Rolling Chaos is a step toward preparing our EMT students and teaching them how to handle a major disaster" O'Neal said.

Operation Rolling Chaos is a training simulation designed to mirror conditions caused from the breaking of the Anderson Dam near Morgan Hill, California. The Anderson Dam, built in 1950, resides along the Calaveras Fault and is the largest dam in the Santa Clara County. In a 2009 study released by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, it was estimated that the Anderson Dam could fail if it were directly hit with a 6.6 magnitude earthquake or if a 7.2 magnitude earthquake were to hit within one mile (source:www.mercurynews.com1/2009).

Although experts believe that the dam would take multiple days to fully breach, a rupture in the 235-foot earthen dam could send a 35-foot wall of water into downtown Morgan Hill within 15 minutes and flood San Jose with 8 feet of water within three hours. California's Santa Clara County is home to over 1.8 million people. A breach in Anderson Dam could greatly affect the entire region and put massive strain on California emergency response services.

"In the end, this training event is just as much for the community as it is for the emergency response teams involved," O'Neal said. "This event is bigger than just Fremont. We expect over 400 people; onlookers, civilian volunteers, nursing students, EMT students, Fremont Police and Fire Departments, state military groups, and more, all working together and collaborating to bring aid to those who need it."

Operation Rolling Chaos is set to debut mid-morning on Sunday, February 10 at the Unitek Education campus in Fremont, California. Organizers are encouraging the public to come out and experience the event and talk with the experts on-hand. The multi-agency event represents a unique training experience for the people involved as groups collaborate to develop a robust disaster response protocol.

O'Neal's parting advice was, "no one wants a disaster to happen, but the fact is they do. If our emergency response teams, volunteers, and community at large should take away one thing, it would be that we were proactively preparing. People may say that there is no way to be 100% prepared, but it won't stop us from trying."


Operation Rolling Chaos
Sunday, February 10
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Unitek Education campus
4670 Auto Mall Pkwy, Fremont
(510) 896-7561Free and open to the public


Sources:
U.S. Census Bureau
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_11381307

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