Berkeley, CA – December 6, 2011 – During a successful BUSD Disaster Exercise on November 15, 2011, the District activated the District Emergency Operations Center (EOC) simultaneously with a full school exercise at Cragmont Elementary School at 8:47 a.m. This was a simulated response to a 6.7 earthquake on the Hayward Fault, with severe damage within 10 mile radius of the epicenter. Actions required for all of the other schools were simulated; the EOC had to treat every school report/request with the same priority as the actual full school evacuation at Cragmont.
District staff had been trained to fufill specific responsibilities as members of the Emergency Operations Center (see photo). Mayor Tom Bates and his Chief of Staff Julie Sinai stopped by for a report on the schools; to discuss the city’s need for shelters, and to reaffirm the partnership between the Berkeley Unified School District and the City of Berkeley.
The exercise was run by Jan Rogala, Rich Rogala and Terry Garrison of Dimensions Unlimited, Inc., who helped write the District safety plans. This was the final exercise in a series as part of a RIMS grant that has helped bring the District to this level of preparation. Superintendent Huyett was pleased with the success and the lessons learned from the exercise, and committed to bi-annual exercises as the grant comes to an end.
There were a number of outside individuals, organizations and agencies who participated, including: volunteers from the US Coast Guard in Alameda; a U.S. Air Force Airman First Class – home on leave and Berkeley Police and Fire.
Evaluators reported to the EOC team after the exercise.
“Only half a dozen school districts go through these, and you guys are up here”, said Communications evaluator/observer Kent Osborn as he held his hand above his head.
City of Berkeley EOC simulator and Berkeley Fire Department observer Sarah Tyler reported to EOC staff, “There was an attempt to share information back and forth by phone, and when the phone wasn’t working you immediately went to the HAM radios. That was so important, being able to go to something that you’re not used to doing”.
Coast Guard Commander B. Sandy, one of the evaluators told the EOC team that he had “observed many school EOC exercises, and this was the best I’ve ever seen”. He concluded saying, “I don’t have any kids, but if I did I’d want them to go to school here because I know they would be safe.”
See video of the exercise on the BUSD website home page.