SHERMAN OAKS ( — About 300 first responders from across the state Tuesday were taking part in a two-day “Urban Search and Rescue” drill to prepare for natural disasters.

Demonstrations began at 5 a.m. prior to an 8 a.m. news conference. Disaster exercises started at 11 a.m. and will take place until 2 p.m. Wednesday at several locations.

“California is no stranger to big earthquakes, and we know that we need specialized resources to deal with the complexities of building collapses,” Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said.

Participants in the 2014 Western Region Multi-Task Force exercise include search and rescue, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

“We’re going to be exercising our folks in a variety of capacities from water operations, hazards materials, even a plane crash that’s going to result from this widespread disaster today,” LAFD Capt. Rick Godinez said. “We want the folks to know that we’re ready. It’s been 20 years since the Northridge Earthquake — our capabilities, our equipment, our personnel have evolved. We want to showcase that, and let the folks know that we’re read, and we also want them to know that they need to be ready as well.”