Berkeley ready terrorist attack

By Mike Dinoffria, Special to the Daily Planet
Friday June 07, 2002

Five local emergency response teams at five sites yesterday conducted a terrorism preparation exercise dubbed “Berkeley Alert.” 

The scenario: A crop duster dumps agricultural pesticide on the city then crashes into a building downtown. The goals were to respond as if the situation were real. 

The City of Berkeley, the University of California, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Bayer Corporation all have conducted emergency response exercises like this, but yesterday’s was the first collective effort, said City Manager Weldon Rucker. 

First, each organization established an emergency operation center in a central location where duties were doled out. Then, teams went to work in their areas of expertise, meeting periodically to exchange reports.  

“We expect to learn a great deal from the Berkeley Alert exercise,” said Thomas Klatt, director of emergency planning and communications for the UC Berkeley Police Department. “Our goal is to examine the systems we have and make adjustments before there’s an emergency.” 

Many of the participants are veterans of the exercises, most commonly geared for earthquakes. Berkeley Chief of Staff Arietta Chakos said today’s drill showed “how important coordination and human contact are in a situation like this.”  

As part of legislation, in response to the Oakland and Berkeley firestorms in 1991, California Legislature enacted an effort to standardize responses involving multiple jurisdictions and multiple agencies.  

If the Standard Emergency Management System works, the agencies will use similar systems of emergency management.