Saturday, Sept. 10, Mountain Disaster Preparedness (MDP) will mount a “boots on the ground” simulation of the aftermath of a 7.9 magnitude earthquake, with an epicenter 2.2 miles east of Banning, in the Pass area. At 9 a.m., MDP will announce over its radio and email systems and through the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES) network that a drill is in progress.

The intent of the exercise is to duplicate, as nearly as possible, the operations and procedures to be used by MDP in the moments and hours after a major quake and to test communication from the Incident Command Center (ICC) with Disaster Aid Station (DAS) units and the Riverside County Office of Emergency Services.

MDP personnel are to deploy to the Incident Command Center at the Idyllwild Fire Department and to DAS-B at the Resource Center on Franklin, DAS-D at Town Hall and DAS-E at Astrocamp. Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services volunteers and MDP core medical personnel will work out of the ICC during the drill that lasts until noon. When a real emergency occurs, MDP personnel would man all eight DAS units (see Idyllwild Phone Book published by the Town Crier for locations) and community members would assemble at those stations prior to being dispatched to a Red Cross shelter.

Recent unusual earthquakes in Virginia and Colorado revealed the dangers when authorities and local populaces are not adequately prepared. MDP President Veronica Alt, like her predecessors and MDP’s training directors, believes that preparation requires drills — day and night, in good as well as inclement weather. MDP is hoping it fields a large number of its over 400 volunteers.

As part of the exercise, DAS unit commanders and captains will open their DAS units, set up medical triage stations and dispatch teams to perform search and report missions, canvassing DAS neighborhoods and reporting back on conditions found at preselected and tagged addresses. Addresses will be tagged with a number of simulated problems requiring the teams to evaluate, respond and report back.

Community members are welcomed at the respective DAS units, which, in the event of an actual earthquake, would be neighborhood assembly points.

A 2010 Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) 8.0 magnitude San Andreas quake simulation, using the high performance computing and scientific expertise of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, produced a set of troubling findings. The simulation forecast a shaker lasting six minutes that caused subsidence and liquefaction in areas with sandy soil bases (the desert and many landfill areas of Los Angeles, such as Marina Del Rey and Playa Vista), collapse of a great many structures and high casualty numbers. In this model, Idyllwild, because of the granite base on which it sits, would be spared both the liquefaction and the length of the shaking, leaving far less damage. The more solid the rock base the faster the destructive seismic waves pass through.

A 2010 study published in “Geology” revised previous estimates to show that massive earthquakes on the southern section of the San Andreas occur far more frequently than previously thought — every 88 years as opposed to every 250. The last massive quake on the southern San Andreas was in 1857, the 7.9M Fort Tejon quake. The one- to three-minute temblor was so powerful that trees as far away as Stockton sank into the ground because of soil liquefaction. “The next earthquake could be sooner than later,” said Lisa Grant Ludwig, UC Irvine earthquake expert and co-author of the study. “It was thought that we weren’t at risk of having another large one any time soon. Well, now, it might be ready to rupture.”

“It [the southern San Andreas] is locked and loaded,” said Thomas Jordan. An earlier model, a 7.8M earthquake on the southern San Andreas used in the Great Shakeout in 2008, posited 1,800 deaths and $213 billion in economic losses.

Attend the Sept. 10 MDP exercise, at the very least to know where your DAS assembly points are. Preparation could save the lives of you and your family. See and for preparedness tips.