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‘Rising Bear’ disaster exercise shakes things up

UC Berkeley's Office of Emergency Management sponsored a three-hour drill Thursday morning to practice and evaluate the campus's response to a 6.8-magnitude earthquake on the Hayward Fault. Nearly 150 staff from some 20 departments took part in the exercise.

Peggy Huston, Mark Freiberg
Peggy Huston and Mark Freiberg

Peggy Huston, chief operating officer of Campus Shared Services, and Mark Freiberg, executive director of the Office of Environment, Health and Safety, at the command center in Warren Hall (UC Berkeley photo)

UC Berkeley’s Office of Emergency Management sponsored a three-hour drill Thursday morning to practice and evaluate the campus’s response to a 6.8-magnitude earthquake on the Hayward Fault.

Nearly 150 campus staff participated in the disaster exercise, dubbed “Rising Bear 2015,” which coordinated the efforts of the Berkeley Seismological Lab, Residential and Student Services Programs, the UC Police Department, the Office of Environment, Health and Safety and more than a dozen other departments.

The exercise included the activation of the Emergency Operations Center in Warren Hall, a central location for management-level coordination, decision-making and support during emergencies. Pre-identified, trained subject-matter experts from across the campus work in the EOC in five response functions: management, operations, planning, logistics, and finance and administration.

In an actual emergency, while the overall response is being coordinated from the EOC, further resources and response activities will likely be needed across the campus. “One of the main goals of the exercise is to practice the communication and coordination that is required between the EOC and those units responding on campus,” said Amina Assefa, manager of the Office of Emergency Management. “Meeting the needs of the campus after an emergency can only be accomplished through a coordinated effort of campus units working together.”

According to the  U.S. Geological Survey, there is a 63 percent chance of a large earthquake — magnitude 6.7 or greater — occurring in the Bay Area by 2036. Thursday’s exercise was an opportunity for key response personnel to test practices and procedures for such an emergency.

A free emergency-preparedness mobile app — offering Berkeley-specific tips and guidance for what to do in the event of earthquakes, power outages, suspicious packages and other potentially hazardous situations — is available from the Office of Emergency Management.

Members of the campus community are also encouraged to sign up for WarnMe text alerts via the WarnMe website. OEM recommends that users designate text messages as their first alert priority, since this is the fastest way to receive notifications in an emergency,