Photo by Erin Broadley. Click image for entire slideshow.

If today was a training session to help government and emergency personnel understand how to react to a 7.8 Big One hitting Los Angeles, and to get Angelenos revved up about earthquake preparedness, it looks like they still have quite a ways to go. I guess that was the point.

One problem was the puffed-up claim that 5 million people were volunteering or somehow involved. It would be a miracle if 100,000 were. I saw a small number of volunteers in Balboa Park, and a small number at Fire Station 88 in Van Nuys. The lesson turned out to be about chronic government overhype of almost everything: It the public wary and even less likely to get involved.

Lesson Two was about communications, under the category “Lack Thereof.” The nice volunteers who showed up at the American Red Cross mass casualty site at the Balboa Recreation Center were milling around wondering where the fake bandages and makeup artists were. Earnest Red Cross and city officials were on the phone several times, trying to get an answer about the fake blood. It turns out no faked injuries had been authorized there. No big deal. But that's why things get so screwed up in an actual disaster, when the information is critical and wires quickly get crossed.

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