Today was the city-wide disaster preparedness drill sponsored by the Burlingame Neighborhood Network. 22 "blocks" or neighborhoods in B'game took part and B'game police, fire and city officials toured the gathering sites to get a feel for how residents participated and learned about preparing. This was my second year participating and I can verify that the more you do it, the more engaged and informed you become. Step 0 is knowing where your block meets which is the most fundamental thing to know. We had many new faces this year as people have moved into the neighborhood or just decided to come to the event. That interaction alone makes it worthwhile.
I'll just tell you three things about being prepared. Neighborhoods that plan and practice do far better, in the aggregate welfare, than those that don't. That may seem obvious, but it bears repeating so that participation can get above 3-4% of everyone in the neighborhood. Second, B'game has about 100 first responders in total but only about 25 are on duty at any given time, so figuring out what has happened, how serious it is and getting the most dire issues up the "chain of command" is essential. The rest will be up to us. Lastly, the city is doing a good job of assisting this grass roots efforts. My neighborhood qualified for one of the 22 "caches" of emergency supplies that the city has funded based on our history of engagement in the process. We also got one of the decommissioned radios to enable a communications lead to talk to ham operators at the elementary schools (who then relay the most critical info to police and fire). We cannot count on 911 and cell phones for everything when all is chaos.
All in all it was a worthwhile morning and kudos to BNN for the planning, documentation and coaching needed to make it a success. Here is the cache spread out for the drill.