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First responders get live quake drill

Posted: July 30, 2008 12:49 a.m.
Updated: September 30, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Dan March, front, and Rick Smith, of the city of Santa Clarita's street maintenance crew, inspect the Centurion Way bridge near Saugus High School after Tuesday's earthquake.

Who needs a mock scenario to test a disaster preparedness plan when you have a 5.4 earthquake to test your resources, people and protocol?

Local emergency officials are calling Tuesday's Chino Hills quake a good opportunity to put planned emergency responses to the test.

"Nobody was hurt and we didn't sustain any damage," said Sgt. Darren Harris, spokesman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station.

Asked about the Sheriff Department's four-stage disaster response protocol, Harris said "it went very well.

"In one sense, we were very grateful for the quake. On one hand, no one was hurt and, on the other side, law enforcement had a real live opportunity to enact our plan, to do it in real life and to see where we're at.
It went fairly smooth."

Donna Nuzzi, emergency services supervisor for Santa Clarita, said the temblor was "absolutely" a good opportunity to test protocol.

"Our building safety inspectors looked at critical facilities," she said, adding only one minor report was logged. "We had one person report a little crack in one commercial building in the industrial center.

"It was a reminder and a wake up call that if you haven't developed (an emergency plan) for you and your family, there's no time like the present to make one."

Tony Bell, spokesman for county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, said he received no reports of injury.

"We had some phones down and some water leaks," he said. "Very, very small water leaks at a couple of county facilities."

Antonovich issued a news release following Tuesday's earthquake directing the county's Department of Public Works to conduct a thorough investigation of all county infrastructure including roads, tunnels, bridges, and buildings to assess damage and initiate repairs if

"We expect to have a preliminary report on any damage today," Bell said. "If there are any damages we will look at any repairs that have to be done."

Dan Masnada, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, said no leaks were reported at any of the agency's buildings including water treatment plants and pumping stations.

"We're checking all our facilities," he said. "But I don't believe there is any damage."

In terms of transportation, local rails and Metrolink stations did not encounter any problems as a result of the morning earthquake, according to Denise Tyrell, Metrolink spokeswoman.

As a precaution, rails within 30 miles of the epicenter were inspected on Tuesday, she said.

It's been almost a year since an earthquake shook Santa Clarita.

On Aug. 9, 2007, a quake measuring 4.5 hit Santa Clarita Valley, sending sheriff's deputies and city inspectors out to check on crumbling concrete shaken loose from the Whites Canyon bridge.

This year, inspectors responding to check out bridges and other infrastructure found nothing compromised by the quake.

Deputies at the Sheriff's Station follow a four-stage protocol in response to earthquakes, Harris said.

Within 15 minutes of receiving news of an apparent disaster such as Tuesday's quake, deputies conduct an "initial assessment" of their own facilities to ensure they are able to do their jobs.

Within the first 30 minutes, "each deputy according to what car they're in are assigned to check on a specific facility. These "first priority" facilities include schools, bridges and water infrastructure.

The third phase requires officers to relay all information to a central location enabling those in command to allocate resources.

The final phase requires that all deputies file a full report on the assessments they've made.


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