Planners of an April 16 wildfire exercise in Calaveras County need volunteers to play the roles of displaced – and perhaps confused – residents.
Twenty-six agencies are putting on the large-scale drill in the north fork canyon of the Mokelumne River near West Point. They are recruiting drama students, emergency services trainees and other people to help make it realistic.
“Those volunteers will be given scenarios to play that will test the response of emergency personnel,” event coordinator Dennis Lewis said in a news release. “For example, it is not unusual to have people show up at a disaster shelter without their prescription medication, or to be under severe psychological stress. We need actors to play those roles.”
The canyon, which straddles the Calaveras-Amador county line, is filled with the kind of brush and timber that stoked the massive Rim fire in Tuolumne County in 2013 and other blazes in the Sierra Nevada.
“It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when” another wildfire will occur, said Chief Jim Carroll of the West Point Fire Protection District. It is planning the exercise with other local fire districts, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, sheriff’s departments in the two counties, the American Red Cross and businesses.
Carroll, a former Cal Fire chief officer and an expert in wildfire behavior, is planning the exercise scenario with Mike Blankenheim, a battalion chief with the state agency. Lunch will be provided by the Ladies Auxiliary of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3322 in West Point.
For more information or to volunteer, email Lewis at email@example.com.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2385.