CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Sept. 11, 2019) - The sound of a blaring siren signaled the start of an annual disaster drill, held Sept. 7 in Zama City, and involving the participation of Camp Zama emergency services personnel.

The purpose of the exercise, which included more than 500 participants from 50 organizations, was to raise awareness of disaster preparedness among the community and to build a seamless collaborative system in an effort to save as many lives as possible, said Yasuhiro Jinguji, a staff member with Zama City's Risk Management Division.

The scenario for the drill was a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that hit south Tokyo and caused severe damage and left a number of people seriously injured throughout the city. In addition to first responders, the drill also included Zama City residents, local business owners and personnel from Camp Zama who acted as role-players to heighten the realism of the exercise.

Jinguji said he and his team were very grateful for Camp Zama's annual participation in the drill.

"It helps enhance [our] collaborative skills by training together on a regular basis in case of an emergency," said Jinguji.

Eighteen Camp Zama personnel participated in the drill: 12 Directorate of Emergency Services staff, who trained on firefighting procedures; two Soldiers from U.S. Army Medical Department Activity-Japan; and four volunteer role-players from the Camp Zama American Red Cross.

"The annual disaster drill is considerably crucial for both Camp Zama and Zama City because it continues to help enhance a face-to-face bilateral relationship between us and reinforce the cooperative procedures in the event of an emergency situation," said Yoshihiro Isono, assigned to Camp Zama's Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, who helped coordinate with Zama City's Risk Management Division.

Sgt. 1st Class Tatiana Mason and Staff Sgt. Karim Acosta, assigned to MEDDAC-Japan, ran an information booth during the drill, where they displayed medical kits used in the Army, and answered questions.

The two were responsible for putting special-effects makeup on the role-players to simulate realistic injuries, which gave them an opportunity to interact with the Japanese participants as they applied fake blood and prosthetics.

"This bilateral disaster drill, and the direct interaction with the Japanese population, will help build trust and camaraderie throughout the community before and during any disaster that may occur," said Mason.

Mason added that drills like these are extremely beneficial to everyone involved because they can help create a smoother and more effective recovery process in the event of a disaster, and they help strengthen the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Japan.