Silicon Valley municipalities have a unique problem to account for when planning for emergencies like earthquakes—the area is too affluent.
The high cost of living in cities like Palo Alto makes living near work virtually impossible for first responders like firefighters, according to Palo Alto firefighter and union executive board member Evan Johnson. Although this results in long commutes, it does not prevent firefighters from being able to do their jobs on most days, since they work 48-hour shifts, sleeping and eating at the firehouse when on duty.
However, in the event of a massive emergency, like an earthquake, when even off duty units are called in, towns like Palo Alto must take in to account that their off duty firefighters may be two, three or even five hours away. Because of the lack of personal that would be nearby during such an event, Nathan Rainey of the Palo Alto Office of Emergency services says citizens of Palo Alto should be prepared for a week before receiving services, longer than the three days typically recommended by the Red Cross.