Earthquake Training Completed By California Departments


Updated: 05-17-2006 10:56:22 AM


CHRIS DURANT
Eureka Times Standard



EUREKA -- The isolation of Humboldt County is always in the back of firefighters' minds, but thanks to grant and training from the governor's Office of Emergency Services they got some hands-on training last week that will better prepare them to handle a catastrophic event.

The Eureka Fire Department, Humboldt Fire District No. 1 and members of the Arcata Fire Protection District spent last week at the Hilfiker training area going through scenarios simulating a devastating earthquake.

There were two simulations, one depicting people trapped in a multiple story building with rubble and debris blocking access. The other simulation depicted a sewer treatment plant that had collapsed with people trapped inside.

Concrete blocks were poured weeks previous to use in the training. Some of the blocks weighed 5,000 pounds.

Eureka Fire Chief Eric Smith said there were no chiefs involved in the command portion of the training.

"Because we'd probably be at the (Office of Emergency Services) or another command center," Smith said.

Fire captains manned the on-site command center, coordinating the mock rescue efforts.

Firefighters received training in shoring or stabilizing buildings before firefighters enter, moving heavy objects with regular tools they find on their trucks, improvising other uses for ladders and using ropes and knots.

A reporter and photographer also briefly participated in the training, arriving at the command center and asking the captain in charge questions consistent with the scenario.

Smith said half of his staff participated in the latest training, with the other half scheduled to participate at a future session.

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