Earthquake exercise prepares Angelenos for catastrophe

By Dorany Pineda

The City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department and the United Neighborhood Council conducted a neighborhood disaster exercise on April 30 in the Historic West Adams District of South LA.

The full scale exercise was held as part of America’s 5-Step Prepareathon, a grassroots campaign that hopes to increase community preparedness and resilience in the event of a catastrophe.

The exercise involved a post-earthquake simulation. The first hour of the drill was the neighborhood civilian response to the disaster, in which members of the community played the roles of injured survivors and community responders.

At 10 a.m., city responders, including the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments, arrived to the scene and took control of the disaster.

“It’s about an integrated response. Everyone has a role in a catastrophic event. Resources will become expended, and knowing what’s going on in your region is critical,” Jeff Reeb, the director of the LA County Office of Emergency Management, said.

According to seismologists, there is a 99.9 percent chance that an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.8 or higher will strike somewhere in California, and less than half of the population is prepared.

“It could take hours for a first response and recovery team to arrive to the scene,” the Calif. Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Southern Regional Administrator, Mona Bontty said.

“It is not a matter of if, but when an earthquake will hit,” Robert Fenton, the Region IX Administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said.

Following the drill was a Public Safety Fair at Benny H. Potter Park, a few blocks from the location of the drill.

Informational booths on how to prepare for everything from an earthquake to a fire were at the fair, as well as food trucks, a blood donation truck and live music.

For more information on how to prepare for an earthquake visit

For information on how to become a certified community emergency response team member visit

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