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Published October 24th, 2012
Neighborhood Earthquake Response
By Ellen Beans
Photo Sophie Braccini

Fifteen Moraga residents on Carr Drive, Inverleith Terrace, and Gloria Court were seen at 8 a.m. last Saturday walking into Gloria Court, some donning helmets and work gloves. Several had called in to the "command center" using their FRS radios. The reason? They were responding to a simulated earthquake and were practicing their training to assist their neighborhood in a major emergency. Sophie Braccini, coordinator, signed everyone in and proceeded to organize the neighbors into three teams with assignments to do a complete "search and rescue" of each home in the area, leaving Bill Wiegmann to do the in-take of information gathered.
Team Two found a posted tag on one garage door indicating that gas fumes were detected. The team then searched for the gas meter, found the attached wrench to turn off the gas, but before Brian Buick turned the knob, the homeowner on the team yelled out, "No! Not now!" Then ensued an engaging lesson in how and when to turn off the gas in a real emergency.
Another team found an "injured" man pinned down by fallen lumber and bleeding at the mouth and ear, and used an FRS radio to report this to the command center.
Once all sections of the neighborhood were searched and reported on, all teams re-gathered at the command center. For the first time, there was a coordinating center for the whole town of Moraga to report the information gathered. Braccini, after several tries, reached Moraga Central Command using one of the four U.V. Dual Band Multifunctional Two-way radios recently purchased by the Moraga Police Department.
Each team reported on its findings, which in a real emergency would help the Town to know where to direct the minimal professional services available. Then the neighbors evaluated the 30-minute exercise. Gloria Court was a good gathering location, neighbors needed more practice using the FRS radios, and they needed answers to some important questions: Are all gas meters the same in our neighborhood? Where are they on each house? Exactly what are the conditions under which the gas meter should be shut off? Where can we get a wrench?
In the end, the residents felt that they were ready to practice more involved scenarios in the future.
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