Cinema History from the Cold War!

Setting the Stage in Portland

The following series of photographs depict an orderly evacuation of Civil Defense Rescue Crews and other emergency workers from Portland, Oregon as Part of Operation Green Light.  The practice attempt to clear the city of nearly half a million people is documented in the CBS film A Day Called X.  Near the end, we watch as this crowd, a mix of volunteers and professionals set up Staging Area 3 at a pre-determined dispersal point well outside  Portland.  They would remain there until hazards from blast subsided and favorable fallout conditions developed.  Once conditions allowed, they would move into the damaged areas and begin the recovery process.

As depicted here in this map drawing, Russian planes are tracked as they cross the Aleutians and barrel Southward, possibly towards Portland.

Reacting to the warning time, the city crews of Portland halt their daily activities and prepare for Civil Defense duties that will place them outside the town for now.

Likewise, electric and other utility workers make last second preparations before they too will join fire, police, and rescue forces in safe locations outside the city.

Jack Lowe, Portland CD Director, issues evacuation sirens to be sounded the instant it is confirmed that enemy bombers are intruding into American airspace.

Here a local sportscaster urges calm as the citizens of Portland evacuate to the surrounding areas.  Note the disclaimer flashing on the screen.  It appears several times throughout the film as a reassurance that what is being broadcast is only a filmed drill exercise.

A member of the Portland Police Force directs outgoing emergency vehicles through the crowds of civilians trying to get through on the highways.

High above the confusion surely taking place on the streets, a traffic director informs the authorities of a possible clog in traffic, delaying the setup of Dispersal Area Three.

A preplanned exit is opened up and traffic resumes uninterrupted. 

Which allows the first workers to arrive on scene at Dispersal Area Staging Ground Three.

Indicating the location of the Stage Three HQ.

Row after row of Emergency trucks have now arrived safely outside of the target zone. These workers will weather the blast of the possible Atomic explosion from this area, prior to heading back into Portland to assist in rescue work.  Every one of the city's Fire Engines would have been relocated to stations such a these, as indicated in the film when all but two (which are remaining in downtown Portland to fight a residential fire) are reported as having been evacuated.

The first step is to cover these vehicles with large, heavy-duty tarps to keep fallout from accumulating within them.

The entire process is commanded by the Stage Director.  Shown here using a portable loudspeaker, he appears to be a high ranking member of the Fire Department.


The mass of workers at Stage 3 move towards their designated fallout protection areas, as would be needed if a wind shift brought the invisible menace their way.  The weather bureau for the city predicted unfavorable winds would result in high fallout dispersal earlier in the film.  While in a real attack they may be running from fallout, given this is a drill it is possible that it was announced that lunch was being served from the Emergency Kitchen shown below.

Red Cross Mass Feeding Units like this one would accompany the Rescue Crews as they moved out of Portland.

As a final shot, we are greeted with this very intimidating looking woman.  Although used in the film as way to not spread gossip, she appears to be a Red Cross Volunteer and would probably associated with the Mass Kitchen above, or a first aid crew (given her shoulder badge) that would no doubt be on scene.

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