Drill tests county's disaster response skills

March 24, 2011 1:19:55 PM PDT
Health officials, first responders and a team of volunteers are fanning out across San Mateo County Thursday to test the county's ability to distribute medical supplies to residents in the event of a major catastrophe.

In the fifth annual "Silver Dragon" emergency drill, participants are visiting more than 10,000 homes on the coast and along the Bay, from Daly City to Redwood City, to simulate the distribution of medicine and supplies from federal stockpiles, health department spokeswoman Jana Cranmer said.

In lieu of medical supplies, however, participants in the drill are distributing kitchen fire safety information.

The exercise, organized by the San Mateo County Health System, is meant to test the county's response to a major natural disaster, widespread food contamination, airborne illness, or a biological terrorist attack, Cranmer said.

"Anything that would require us to distribute medical supplies to our citizens," Cranmer said.

About 60 health department staff members will coordinate first responders from more than 20 local police and fire departments and 450 volunteers during the operation, Cranmer said.

The drill was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and last several hours.

Participating agencies include the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Protection District, Cal Fire, San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services, Pacifica Police Department, Coastside Medical Reserve Corps, Pacifica Police Department, Half Moon Bay Police Department and the North County Fire Authority.

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