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Volunteer victims needed for 2-day earthquake drill

By Christian Kallen

Fire, pandemic — isn’t it time for an earthquake?

The U.S. Geological Survey thinks Sonoma County is at very high earthquake risk, with a 90% chance of a major earthquake occuring within 30 miles in the next 50 years. After all, it wasn’t that long ago, on Aug. 24, 2014, when neighboring Napa County was shaken, rattled, and rolled by a 6.0 earthquake that damaged buildings in downtown Napa and was felt widely in Sonoma County as well.

One of the most unstable regions in the area is along the Rogers Creek Fault, which runs right up the middle of Wine Country, stretching from Hayward to Healdsburg.

With earthquake preparedness in mind, the state’s National Guard will coordinate with other state and local agencies on a two-day exercise at the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) on Friday and Saturday, April 29 and 30. The exercise is based on a theoretical, but quite possible, 7.9 earthquake along the Calaveras-Hayward Fault system, which includes the Rogers Creek Fault. The exercise offers an opportunity for Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) to test their preparedness in a series of complex, realistic scenarios that mimic what they are likely to encounter during such an event.

Not only is this two-day training close to home — traffic control will be in place along Arnold Drive for the duration of the two-day exercise — but local volunteers age 14 and up are invited take part. Though largely first responders will engage in training during the exercise, called “Sentinel Response 2022,” locals are asked to join the action in the disaster simulation. Volunteers will play the roles of “victims,” working with makeup artists trained in the art of “moulage” (severe injury makeup, just like in the movies!), and will be “rescued” by urban search and rescue (SAR) and search dog teams from around the state, assisted by local responder teams, to practice and improve their skills.

Approximately 100 volunteer “role players” are needed each day, 50 for each four-hour shift. Organizers suggest that this is a good opportunity for highschool students to fulfill community service requirements, as well as have fun helping several hundred first responders dedicated to preparedness train, organizers suggest. Volunteer role players will be required to attend a virtual player orientation on Thursday, April 23, from 6 to 7 p.m.

All volunteers will receive certificates of participation for community service issued by California’s Office of Emergency Services (CAL OES) and the California Army National Guard.

To sign up, send your name, cell phone number, and availability to Philip White, lead exercise planner, at (707) 333-3577 or [email protected]