Emily Loren, 17, is assisted by a Los Angeles fireman during an earthquake drill at Bishop Alemany H.S. Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles. Southern Californians dropped to the ground, covered their heads and held onto the furniture Thursday for a mock "Big One," an earthquake drill billed as the largest in U.S. history and aimed at testing everyone from state leaders to students who donned fake blood to play victim. At exactly 10 a.m., television news programs announced there was an earthquake disaster drill, then cut to cameras in school classrooms showing children ducking under their desks and holding onto them. A full day of mock post-earthquake exercises such as rescues, emergency medical care and news conferences was planned. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)
Health officials, first responders and a team of volunteers are fanning out across San Mateo County today 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.