Millions of Californians, including nurses and other emergency responders from local, state, and federal agencies, mobilized in November for what the governor’s office says was the largest combined earthquake drill and exercise in U.S. history.
More than 5,000 emergency responders took part Nov. 13-18 in Golden Guardian 2008, led by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Office of Homeland Security, while more than 5.1 million Californians signed up for The Great Southern California ShakeOut, organized by the Earthquake Country Alliance. Both events tested California’s ability to respond to a magnitude 7.8 earthquake along the southern San Andreas Fault.
As part of Golden Guardian 2008, several hundred healthcare professionals deployed one of the California Emergency Medical Services Authority’s three 200-bed mobile field hospitals from Northern California to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside. Healthcare professionals on the hospital administrative support unit, mission support team, and California medical assistance teams then supported 100 volunteers who pretended to be patients through the admissions, care, and feeding processes. Although the injuries were pretend, they were made to look real by the talents of Hollywood makeup artists — which made the drill feel even more authentic.Everything that was needed to run the mobile field hospital at March Air Reserve Base, from air conditioners to medical supplies, was contained in color-coded crates.
This exercise couldn’t come at a more important time, said Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Director Henry Renteria in a press release. The question is no longer if, but when, the next big earthquake will happen in California.About 35 nurses from Placentia-Linda Hospital in Placentia, Calif., took part in The Great Southern California ShakeOut on Nov. 13, serving as incident commanders and being involved in patient tracking, care, triage, and transfer. Hospital officials say the exercise helped them prepare for the Yorba Linda fires a couple days later.