establish an emergency operations center in the council chambers. The
center operates as a link between field rescuers and regional, state and
federal support groups. During the 1999 San Rafael fire, it was
volunteers who set up the operations center before any city staff
The response team has 42 active members and has trained more than 200
residents, said Emergency Services Coordinator Andrew Pachon.
For the past three Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 14 people have
been trained by Pachon in first aid, search and rescue and disaster
communication techniques. The techniques were put to the test in the
council chamber's at City Hall Thursday. To create an earthquake
scenario, the chambers were ransacked: picture chairs overturned, lights
off and wires hanging from the ceiling. In addition, three "victims" --
La Canada High School students, were made up to appear injured and placed
in the room.
VERT trainees accessed the structural damage to City Hall, entered and
searched the chambers, and extricated the "victims." After the exercise,
they debriefed their performance.
The most comforting thing about the program is that it shows the city
has an active emergency response team, said Chuck Gelhaar, a member of
the city's planning commission who participated in the training.
For more information about VERT, and the upcoming evening training
session, call Andrew Pachon at City Hall, 790-8880.