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SF Fleet Week gives first responders a chance to sharpen disaster response

SF Fleet Week gives first responders a chance to practice disaster response
SF Fleet Week gives first responders a chance to practice disaster response 02:56

SAN FRANCISCO – While San Francisco Fleet Week celebrates the Armed Forces, the event is also an opportunity for first responders to sharpen their disaster response skills.

"This is not a normal day," Kim Bowman told KPIX 5.

Bowman spends most of her time on land, but on Monday she was getting ready to board a helicopter that will take her to the U.S.S. Harpers Ferry, just off the coast of San Francisco.

"The helicopter, you're very close to the door and I'm a bit of a nervous flier but I think it'll be fun," Bowman said.

While she may be a nervous flier she's calm under pressure, which her job requires as an emergency management director for the city.

A breathtaking 20-minute chopper ride took her to the U.S. Navy ship where she met with counterparts from the Navy as part of coordination preparations that she said are an essential part of Fleet Week.

"This really is a chance to work directly face to face with our partners," Bowman told KPIX 5. "We think a lot in San Francisco about the potential impacts of a major earthquake. So our roadways and bridges may be impacted, and we may only be able to receive them by air or maritime vessels. And so, during Fleet Week, we test that capability."

On board, the U.S.S. Harpers Ferry was a landing craft unit that served as a prime example of how the military would transport supplies and personnel to shore in the event of a catastrophe.

"That close coordination lets you tap into resources that we might not know we even need, when we need them most," Bowman said. "Things like blood, medical equipment, sheltering operations."

Looking at the city from the water hits different when one is thinking about emergency response.

"It's a lot of people, but we have a big team of people working on it," Bowman added.

As for when the big one hits, Bowman said, "We have done copious amounts of training and exercise and planning and preparedness. We're ready, we're ready for when it happens."

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