Press Release

NASA Ames Conducts Earthquake Emergency Drill

By SpaceRef Editor
November 6, 2008
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NASA Ames Conducts Earthquake Emergency Drill

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – In preparation for a major earthquake striking the Bay Area, emergency response teams at NASA Ames Research Center underwent two days of disaster response training this week.

Conducted Nov. 5-6, 2008, the Great Worden Quake II emergency exercise featured several events designed to train and sharpen the skills of the center’s emergency and disaster assistance responders. In addition, the drill also provided an opportunity for the entire center’s workforce to participate and become familiar with specific procedures they would need to follow in the event of a major earthquake.

The emergency drill was developed to respond to a 7.3 magnitude earthquake striking the Hayward and Rogers Creek faults, which if real, would undoubtedly cause numerous injuries and major damage not only at NASA Ames, but also throughout the entire Bay Area region.

“As we all know, one of these days we’re going to be experiencing a major earthquake,” said Phillip Snyder, deputy chief of Protective Services at NASA Ames. “It’s not a question of whether it will happen, but when. This emergency drill will help us prepare for and respond to the real thing.”

During the drill, all center employees participated in a mass evacuation of their buildings when the earthquake exercise got underway. Employees assembled in various evacuation zones established throughout the center. The evacuation zones are designed to keep center employees away from hazardous areas, assist in personnel accountability and improve communication. Meanwhile, fire and medical crews treated simulated injuries, while search and rescue teams assessed structural damage and rescued trapped victims. Damage and utility control teams also practiced securing and repairing damaged utilities.

Another scenario during the drill featured a simulated crash landing of a C-130 cargo aircraft at Moffett Field. Members of the NASA Ames Fire Department responded to the crash, along with security forces of the 129th Rescue Wing of the California Air National Guard. In yet another scenario, law enforcement personnel of the NASA Protective Services Office responded to a law enforcement event.

The center activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and staffed it with employees trained to coordinate and support all the simultaneous events occurring throughout the center. As part of the EOC activity, periodic teleconferences were held with EOCs at other NASA centers, assisted by Web-based disaster tracking tools, to help identify how other NASA centers could assist Ames in its disaster response and recovery.

On the second day of the drill, members of the center’s Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) participated in a rescue scenario in the Collapsed Structure Training Facility to practice rescuing victims trapped in a building that had been extensively damaged during the earthquake. Members of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., search and rescue team were deployed to assist the NASA Ames DART search and rescue team during this grueling activity.

During another scenario, the NASA Ames Fire Department and the NASA Ames Safety, Environmental and Mission Assurance organization responded to a hazardous material incident simulating a chemical leak.

Also during the drill, several Ames senior executives flew down to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., to participate in a Continuity of Operations (COOP) exercise. The COOP objective is to rapidly recover the center’s essential operations and business functions.

This is the second year in a row that NASA Ames has conduced the Great Worden Quake emergency exercise that is named after NASA Ames Center Director S. Pete Worden.

“NASA Ames is very fortunate to have senior managers who recognize the value of not only planning how to respond to disasters, but also practicing the implementation of those plans,” Snyder said. .”By involving not only the emergency responders, but also the center’s general population, we learn a variety of lessons which will allow us to respond more effectively to a real event.”

For more information about NASA Ames Research Center, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.