Sunday, May 27 , 2018, 9:18 am | Fair 59º


Local News

Firefighters Mobilize in Real-Time Response Drill of Massive Earthquake

Disaster simulation in Goleta brings together 85 firefighters from 10 departments throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties

Residents throughout Santa Barbara County — and California — know that the possibility of a large earthquake is always looming, and on Tuesday in Goleta, 85 firefighters from 10 departments converged to simulate what they would do in a large-scale earthquake to save lives and rescue victims.

Tuesday’s mobilization exercise, or MOBEX, was the simulation of a large earthquake causing building collapses, multiple injuries, and entrapment. Firefighters from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties were involved in the drill, along with 40 volunteers from the Santa Barbara City College Emergency Medical Technician program, who simulated live victims who were rescued and treated.

A host of firefighters moved in and out of the abandoned Devereaux Campus Building in which UCSB permitted the training exercise to take place in and around. Crews from the Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, Lompoc, Santa Maria, Vandenberg, Montecito, Carpinteria/Summerland, Ventura, Ventura County and Oxnard fire departments were all present.

Watching over all the action was Santa Barbara firefighter Tony Pighetti, who explained that the Urban Search and Rescue Team, or USAR, was part of Tuesday’s action and includes firefighters from both Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Right now the teams are unified, but because they’ve both been able to train more team members, they’ll be splitting up into independent units next summer.

Tuesday’s drill was designed to practice working together as separate units, and to dispatch in real time those agencies involved to practice for a large event.

“That’s the best thing about a drill like this, working together,” Pighetti said. Of the USAR team in general, “we get called to all kinds of stuff.”

Cliff-side, confined space, swift water and ocean rescues are all things they’ve been called out to recently.

On Tuesday, crews were reinforcing a door and an entry way with wooden scaffolding so that the building wouldn’t collapse in the case of an aftershock. “Victims” were buried under steel beams earlier in the day, and the crew was able to use the crane to get to them, along with search dogs who were used to locate them.

“We really want this to be a learning experience,” Pighetti said. 

He also thanked UCSB for letting the department use property, as well as Specialty Crane for its use of the crane for the exercise.

“It’s rare to have a building like this. For us, it’s $1 million prop,” he said. “It’s pretty special.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >