NELA Neighborhoods to get Grisly for 'Great California ShakeOut Drill'

Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council hosts a mock disaster enactment, complete with gruesome makeup and scary sound effects.

On Saturday morning, Oct. 13, two blocks of Montecito Heights will become a disaster area.


There will be broken bones. Amputated body parts. Grisly wounds. Loud rumbling sounds will echo the devastation and ruin all around.

Great ShakeOut Drill

That might sound like an over-the-top Halloween haunted house but it's actually The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council Great ShakeOut Drill: a mock disaster preparation designed to inspire neighborhoods to develop or review disaster plans in anticipation of "the Big One".

The Arroyo Seco test exercise, a side project of the Great California ShakeOut Drill scheduled for Thursday, October 18, will be filmed so Angelenos will have a better idea of how to take care of themselves and their neighbors after a disaster when police and fire departments aren't able to immediately respond to everyone.

"Loud Rumbling Sounds of the Big One"

NELA residents should be aware that "Loud Rumbling Sounds of the Big One" (per the Emergency Management Department) will signal the start of the drill at 9 a.m. near the Montecito Heights Recreation Center.

“There’s going to be really good sound effects,” confirms Montecito Heights resident Marissa Hernandez who’ll be playing a pregnant victim in the drill.  “It’s going to sound like there really is an earthquake.”

It’s also going to look as if there really is an earthquake.

The disaster drill will be staged as realistically as possible with search and rescue teams going door to door, a medi-vac helicopter with rappelling rescuers, a second story “extraction”, and volunteer “victims” whose gruesome, fake wounds are courtesy of “moulage” artists who specialize in make-up effects for emergency training.

According to volunteer victim Eve Martinez Pulchik, who will have an amputated limb, the shockingly realistic injuries are a crucial component because CERT teams have to be prepared for what they actually might find. “When something this big happens, it’s a situation you’re not prepared for,” notes Pulchik. “If a building comes down, it’s not going to be a bump on the head.  It’s going to crush you.”

A Big Disaster on a Small Scale

Because the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council applied to be a Great ShakeOut test case, all five communities in the ASNC (Mount Washington, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Hermon and Sycamore Grove) were initially considered for the drill.  But according to ASNC President Martha Benedict, it was “decided that a tightly focused project would yield more meaningful results. The two streets Homer and Mosher were the most accessible and presented fairly typical conditions for a Los Angeles neighborhood." 

The tightly knit Montecito Heights neighborhood has also been a rich resource. ASNC board member Roy Payan, who has led the drill planning and will be CERT Captain on Saturday, has “extensive CERT experience, heads the CERT team in Montecito Heights, [and] served during the Katrina disaster with Red Cross,” according to Benedict.

Payan’s participation inspired others to join, such as Mosher Avenue resident Danny Duarte, who just finished his CERT training and is part of the communications emergency response team. “My goal is to help my family and friends,” says Duarte, whose uncles and grandmother have lived in Montecito Heights for decades.  “I’m invested in this community. I have a personal stake.”

A Variety of Volunteers Still Needed

Volunteers—who will be entered into raffles for prizes like an iPad—are still needed to participate.

All are welcome.

Luis M. Aguilar, who is on the search and rescue and communication teams, notes that “a variety of scenarios will play out. Special needs kids and adults, people in wheelchairs…it’s going to be as real as possible.  There’s even going to be a Disaster Animal Rescue Team.”

Disaster Survival Fair

After the drill ends at 11 a.m., walk over to the Disaster Survival Fair at Sycamore Grove Park. There, you’ll find further emergency information at booths such as “Handle Woof Care Dog Training” where longtime dog trainer/animal rescuer Lezle Stein will educate the public about “dog necessities needed for a long term emergency—microchipping/tags, medication, food and water, [and] where to go to look for your lost dog or cat.”

The Arroyo Seco Great ShakeOut Drill takes place 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. near the Montecito Heights Recreation Center, 4545 Homer St., 90042. Observers and visitors are encouraged to arrive early to secure good viewing locations. The Disaster Survival Fair takes place 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Sycamore Park, 4702 N Figueroa St., 90042. The Fair is in walking distance from the drill location. For more information, visit www.shakeout.org/arroyo.

Mark Legassie October 15, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Just to correct the record on this drill, the ASNC did not submit a request to be a Shakeout test case, as the article maintains. Rather, a competition was announced by the City, and I decided as the Public Safety Committee Chair to submit a response on behalf of the ASNC. It was sent unvetted by the board, who were apathetic at the time and never reviewed it. I had to answer 3 questions, mainly dealing with what I've done so far for emergency preparedness in ASNC, as well as how I would use the ASNC to increase community participation in the ShakeOut exercise. Surprisingly, my response won the city competition. However, soon after starting the planning I decided to pull out of this activity for several reasons, including the fact it had been delayed by over a year, I felt left out of the vendor selection process, the chosen vendor had no experience with organizing neighborhoods, my ideas would be stolen and used for profit, etc. I was both right & wrong. They did use every idea I dared tell them (5-step plan including neighborhood pre-assessment for dangers, pre-established central meeting area, CERT search & rescue plan, use of FRS radios for communication, use of Red Cross' Safe and Well website, use of Green and Red door hangers by residents to indicate household status, etc) However, in the end I regret not being involved because the City's EMD & vendor did a great job (which for the $190,000 price they should have.)
Kim Axelrod Ohanneson October 15, 2012 at 05:04 PM
My apologies for the oversight, Mark. Thanks for the clarification and for your efforts on behalf of ASNC's communities.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »