Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery

As Terry mentioned, this Saturday we fall back, and as such, it is the second time this year we need to swap out our smoke alarm battery.

We all know smoke detectors can save lives when working properly. It is important to test your smoke detectors (PLURAL) each month to assure they are in working order. I am sure many of us do this most nights when cooking, but if not, get out the broomstick and give the little test button a push.

Unfortuantely many times fires start, smoke detectors are in place, yet the detectors never sound. Maybe someone took the battery for a remote control or some other device, or removed the battery to stop the chirping or maybe they were going to replace it and forgot. Maybe their cooking skills set the detector off one too many times. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter when you have fire and don't know it because the detector sits upon the ceiling, silent and uncaring because someone removed the battery.

To combat this problem, every spring and every fall, when you change your clocks, change out the battery in your smoke detectors (PLURAL). There should be one on every floor of your house and for those in apartments, have at least two, one in your sleeping area, one outside it.

Like with so many other things in life, smoke detectors do not last forever. The life of a smoke detector is approximately 10 years. If your smoke detector is 10 years old or older, replace it. If you have recently moved into an older house or apartment, replace it. Do you trust your life with the previous owners/tenants?

For more information, please visit the United States Fire Administration's website:


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Disaster Preparedness Tip of the Week for you...

Hi Folks!
Daylight saving time ends this weekend; and it's a perfect time to set the clocks back an hour.(Either that or you'll end up being WAY too early for work! :) It's also a great time to check or replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.
As CERT's, lets add one more little step to this. Take a few more minutes and check on the items in your emergency kits. Are the batteries in your emergency kit flashlights still good? Are the foodstuffs in your kits beginning to culture bacteria on their own? Is there something you wanted to add to your disaster kits and never got around to doing it? Did you use something out of your kits and forget to replace it? NOW is the time to check and restock those kits; it's better to check them now than to find out problems with your emergency kits during a disaster. That would be disastrous! :)
So everyone; take a few minutes out of your hectic lives and do these easy to do little things. It only takes a little time to make sure your kits are up to snuff but can pay off BIG in an emergency.
your volunteer PIO

Fairfax County CERT Student Graduations In Press Conference

Take a look at the Fairfax County Citizen Corps blog ( where we are featuring high school student programs, including CERT - as part of America's Safe Schools Week.

Today, high school students who graduated from CERT, along with other Citizen Corps Council representatives, participated in a press conference with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Department of Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, and Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.

Tomorrow the blog will feature the recent camporee with the boy scouts.

For all of those that could not get me to be quiet during a CERT exercise, you should have seen me in action here. Total opposite :-)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fairfax County CERT at the Medical Reserve Corps dispensing exercise

Hi Folks!

On Saturday October 27th members of the Fairfax County CERT program helped with the Medical Reserve Corps dispensing exercise. This was held at George Mason University's Patriot Center. The Medical Reserve Corps is one of our sister Citizen Corps organizations; the MRC helps dispense medications when a health emergency is declared in the county. During a pandemic flu outbreak or bioterror event the MRC volunteers; in conjunction with the Fairfax County health department, will dispense needed medications to the residents of the county. You can get more information on the Fairfax County Medical Reserve Corps at
Saturday was the day for MRC's annual dispensing site drill, this year it was held under the framework of the Cities Readiness Initiative. The premise of the exercise was an airborne anthrax attack and our job was to utilize the "quick dispensing" method to get antibiotics out to the residents;well, um........, quickly. Under the quick dispense method needed antibiotics will be distributed to all 1.2 million Fairfax County residents within 48 to 72 hours of a health emergency declaration. People from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observed the exercise as well.
CERT members helped with this exercise in different functions; I was there as part of the exercise management team, as a member of the transportation unit. (Basically I directed the volunteers to the proper parking lot and to the proper entrance for check in.). I wore my CERT vest; the traffic flow vests MRC issued didn't have enough "reflective stuff" on them. The CERT vests are very reflective when it's dark......Which was useful because it poured rain on me all morning.It was yucky the entire time I was outside at one of the parking lot's intersections ( from 6am to 10am). After that I helped in whatever role the MRC needed me in (I am a site assistant with MRC by the way). Patty from CERT 19 was there with her family as volunteer victims for the exercise, Debra was one of the incident commanders in the quick dispense center. One of our new CERT 29 class members was there as a victim volunteer,and I saw several other CERT's there as volunteers too. Thanks to those that came out!
We also had a CERT booth there, run by the "dynamic duo" of Jack and Susy; in a 2 1/2 hour timespan these folks had a fairly substantial list of people wanting to get more information on the CERT program. There were also booths put up by the county Office of Emergency management; the Red Cross, Volunteer Fairfax, the United Way and MRC itself. Jack and Susy always kept a crowd at the CERT booth; nice job folks!
All in all, it was a very good day. The "quick dispense" method of antibiotic administration is a relatively new method being being tried out (which is why the CDC was there to observe)and CERT members were there to help play a part in keeping our fellow citizens safe.

your volunteer PIO

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fairfax County CERT gets mentioned in Virginia VDEM emergency management update

Hi Folks! The following story is from the Virginia state department of emergency management's EM update. This is a weekly newsletter available to emergency preparedness managers all over the state, it's available at . It mentions our CERT involvement as victims for their exercise. Check out the "additional information" link too; it's a link with some good info on other programs here in the county.

your volunteer PIO

Alexandria CERT's first full-scale exercise

The Alexandria Community Emergency Response Team's first full-scale
exercise tested their response to a mass casualty event, working with
the Alexandria Office of Emergency Management. The exercise provided
refresher training for CERT members, developing their skills in disaster
management and managing a scene until first responders arrive.
Participants included members of Fairfax County CERT, Arlington CERT,
volunteers from the Red Cross and students in Fairfax County Public
School's Fire and Emergency Medical Sciences program.

Additional information is available at

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fairfax County CERT and the US army do it again!

Hi folks!
Andrew's post refers to the exercise we participated in last night. The exercise was held by the US army's 911th engineer company at the old Lorton Youth prison. We were victims for their full scale exercise, and needless to say we had a blast!
We were placed as victims in a room at one end of the old gym; the building is U shaped and the 911th rescuers had to tunnel through probably 400 feet of debris to get to us. They started tunneling at 12 noon on Monday, and "broke through" to us at 745pm last night. It took them 18 hours just to get through the debris; shoring up the collapsed building as they went.
When they finally broke through (the sounds of sawsall saws announced their presence) bedlam ensued! We were in a room and Patty was in the corner hollering, Kevin was screaming about his" broken leg"; Andrew was as usual offering to help the rescuers; Jack was walking wounded and Susy looked like a power cord was sticking out of her shoulder. Jon was confused and I had a wedge of wood in my chest and was hidden from the rest of the room.
The rescuers got the people out; they missed me the first time and their controllers YELLED at them on several occasions too. I mean bellowing at the top of his lungs!!! yelling; when somebody messes up in the army EVERYONE knows about it. Their entire radio net was a 3 minute harangue on missing a victim and buddies not staying together.( Sound familiar? Buddies being seperated in this place could potentially mean DEAD buddies) It was viscious; but those troops learned from it ( or lost their hearing from the yelling!)
They came right back in and found me; I had an impalement, and couldn't move my legs. I was also pretty well wedged in the spot where a simple extrication was impossible. (No "snatch and grab" here folks. ) I was wedged where they couldn't roll me over to slide a stretcher under without having my impalement hit the wall and I was paralyzed too. They were presented with a dilemma; after about 10 minutes of packing my wound and discussing how to get me out; they decided to use a partial backboard on me. (Their determination was "saving life over limb"; I would live but they had to move me risking more spinal damage.) It was a tough call on their part,folks. But, I got to see the reasoning and thought processes for making the decision and this was a really good education! Oh, the impalement got packed just like we CERT's do it.
They put the partial backboard on me (tight!!!!!! like a straight jacket) and pushed me forward and into a floor full of debris. They picked me up by my shoulders and feet; made me feel like a contorsionist getting out of the void space and got out to the main room. Here I was placed on yet another backboard and strapped down TIGHT!!!! . Then the fun part began............
The 911th rescue folks started by handing me down into the "tunnel" they made, head first. Two guys were stuffed in this first space; it may have been as big as a phone booth.These two guys grabbed me, they "fed" me into the hole and slid me onto the floor. Four MORE guys get into this telephone booth sized space and start to do a 6 man backboard carry. Talk about a wild ride folks. I was spun upside down, on my side, one rescuer tripped and fell on me, I was slid headfirst through small spots in the tunnel; at one point they had to negotiate a collapsed doorway with stairs leading upward. That space was barely big enough to get me through, so I was slid upwards, one guy jumped OVER me, got to my head and pulled me up by himself. The other guys got through the doorway (the rescuers looked like toothpaste squirting out of a tube, the opening was that tight!)and on my side, flipped me to one side and toted me up the staircase like I was a briefcase. (well, it was "another day at the office" for these guys).Finally we made it topside and all of the CERT's were there. Patty took a picture of all of us, with me still trussed to the stretcher. (Yeah, that's my feet in the picture :)
That was our part of the exercise; we were thanked again for coming by Lt. Branson AND the 911th engineer company commander! The company commander shook each of our hands; we were their only live victims and we gave them a touch of realism they otherwise would not have had. The commander gave me a 911th engineer company "challenge coin" for our efforts. For those who are army types; you know the prestige of being given one of these. For those that don't; challenge coins are given only to unit members; it's a gold plated "attaboy" on behalf of the unit and a HUGE honor. I accepted it on behalf of the Fairfax County CERT team; we're all CERT's and we;'re all honored by these folks. They honor us by asking us to come out, we are "citizen responders" and these guys wanted us to help them. We honor them by coming out and playing victim for them; by giving them an added touch of realism that they otherwise would not have.
For those who participated in the last 911th drill; Lt. Branson gave us some EXTREMELY nice certificates of appreciation; each one of us were also given a 911th engineer company patch as well. Very nice parting gifts, folks.
We left at this point; each of us dirty, a little more knowledgeable about the in's and out's of rescue, triage and extrication; and proud beyond belief. Things like this make our Fairfax County CERT program better; were you all aware that most CERT training around the country is a classroom only class, with an outside drill as a final exercise only? Think about our CERT classes; so how long did YOU actually stay in the classroom? (oh, one hour out of the 35 hours course, total.......) My point is; we are trained in the dirt,in the debris, in the burn building, in the multi purpose building etc... each time we come out for classes. Practice does make perfect; and Derek's "Less talk, more rock!" couldn't be more true. We've been trained at a level most CERT classes can only dream about. So yes; Fairfax County CERT is better. We're trained well enough to be able to be asked to come out and play with the "big boys", the real first responders.
Thanks to our instructors for making our training some of the best around; thanks to all of the volunteers who participated last night. I hope you all had as much fun as I did!

Your volunteer PIO

Fairfax County CERT is like no other.

Check out the article about what makes Fairfax County CERT different on the Citizen Corps Council blog ->

The pictures were taken at the Lorton training facility.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Roam Secure Network

Many of you belong to Fairfax CEAN Network where you can sign up for emails, text messages, and other alerts from Fairfax county. You can also sign up for alerts from the National Capital Region Text Based Emergency Alert and Notification System on a jusidictional basis. It includes Loudon, Prince William, Fairfax, Arlington Counties; City of Manassas, City of Manassas Park, City of Fairfax and City of Falls Church in Virginia; District of Columbia; Montgomery County and the cities of Gaithersburg, Tacoma Park, Rockville, College Park, Greenbelt and Bowie in Maryland. Prince Georges County is listed as coming soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


First of all, great job last night to everyone with last nights class. As you can see the exercises are putting together more and more pieces of what we have been teaching from day one. Some of the issues you are experiencing during our little exercises are the same ones occurring at the national level TopOff exercise. Simple things like communications are a problem across the country, but we can change that. Be sure to talk to your partner(s); talk to the other teams, tell them where you just came from and where you are going; talk to Command and enumerate your needs and the hazards you come across; write things down-don't rely on your memory.

Speaking of hazards, next weeks class will cover various hazards you might come across. This class is important because this is when we will really start getting on you about wearing all of your personal protective equipment (helmet, gloves [leather and rubber], eye protection, knee pads and masks). From this point forward, YOU could become the victim at any point if you are not properly protected.

Also, as we are building upon the classes that came before us so far, be sure to bring plenty of rags for bandages and some blankets to carry victims with. The victims are going to become heavier and more real (and might include YOU), so having the proper equipment to care for them is paramount.

Finally, please remember to get some batteries for your radios. We will spend a little time going over radio procedures next Wednesday, BUT YOU MUST BRING YOUR RADIO WITH THREE AAA BATTERIES INSTALLED! (I would recommend bringing another three for when you kill the first three).

Have a great week and I look forward to seeing everyone next Wednesday, same CERT time, same CERT location.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

TOPOFF 4 Exercise

The TOPOFF 4 exercise is this week (and yes, we do have CERT this week. I just can't go because of T4). To read more about it, visit the Secretary's Journal entry Exercising the Team. Derek is currently at the main Portland site participating in the event. I am sure he will come back with some nifty exercise ideas that we can implement into our own program.

Also, I bet Mike Forgy is enjoying the fact that he is not actively involved with TOPOFF 4 as he was extremely involved with the first three exercises.

Boy Scout Camporee

Hi all ...

Many thanks to those who came out to support the George Mason District's Fall Camporee on October 13-14th. For those who are going through the current CERT class, these are the fine folk who feed us during our final exercise! I believe that there were members of the press there so if and when any articles are posted, we will pass them on to you. For those who helped out, please share your experiences.

I was there for the set up so Jim Raba and I walked the grounds of the academy to mark off any unsafe areas with surveyors tape. I also conducted the safety briefings of the adults who would either be supporting as:

1.) Adult companions to the patrols to ensure two-deep leadership (a very important tenant of Scouting).

2.) Actors / victims.

I left before play started although I did hear that they were going to bedding down in the high bay (how cool was that??). I also saw that Safeway had provided a refridgerated truck for part of the exercise (to simulate a store).


Monday, October 15, 2007

Spend ANOTHER exciting night with the US army!

Hi folks!
I got a call from Lt. JB Branson of the US Army's 911th engineer company today. If you all may remember, he is the platoon leader that requested our help as victims for their last disaster drill exercise at Fort Belvoir a few weeks back.That exercise was a lot of fun to the CERT victim volunteers that participated.
Well, Lt. Branson has asked if we'd like to come out and play victim for them again, their next disaster drill takes place from October 22nd at 10 am until "mid afternoon" on October 24th. This is a disaster drill that involves assets from DC fire department, Arlington County Fire Department, the US army's 911th engineer company, the US Marines "seaburst" decontamination battalion, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Military District of Washington and "others".
The emphasis on this exercise is hazmat operations. DECONTAMINATION ACTIVITIES WILL BE AN INTEGRAL PART OF THIS EXERCISE....So, if you plan on attending they're warning us beforehand this time that we may be asked to get wet. Wear clothes that can get torn/dirtied/moulaged/potentially decontaminated and I'd bring an extra set of dry clothes to change into as well. Oh, cameras are OK this time!
Needless to say, this exercise is going to be MUCH larger than the previous disaster drill. That's why this one is being held at Lorton Prison this time. Our part of the exercise will take place on Tuesday, October 23rd from 6:30 pm until 10:00 pm. We'll meet at the Lorton Prison site (near the landfill) and will sign in, sign waiver forms and participate in the exercise. I'll send out an informational email and a map to Lorton Prison as the time gets closer to the event.
Here's a neat tidbit for you folks; based on the "strength" of our victim "performances" last time; Lt. Branson asked me to tell anyone who wants to participate in ANY part of this 2 day drill in addition to our part on Oct. 23rd, on ANY of the days of their exercise, come on out. Let the guard at the gate know your'e with Fairfax County CERT and are there to be a victim; you'll be escorted onto the site and used as a victim for as long as you'd like to be there. Apparently we've made a good impression on these folks!
Folks, this event does not count as a CERT refresher, but exercises like this give CERT members a really unique insight into first responder disaster response and mitigation activities at a level you don't normally get to see. Besides, its FUN to participate in these exercises!
Interested in participating? Let me know; please email me at the new CERT volunteer PIO address which is:
Volunteer PIO
PS: For those that participated in the last 911th disaster exercise-I'll be picking up certificates of appreciation from Lt. Branson next week. Also, he's made each of the participants a photo CD of the entire exercise for us! The pictures were classified as "unclassified" so he could share them with us. WOW !

Needless to


Hi Folks!

As your CERT volunteer public information officer, I get a lot of volunteer requests,details on events and the like in my email inbox. I also get LOTS of regular email; so my personal inbox was beginning to look like an email "warehouse".
So, in order to manage the flow of information a bit better I've got a spiffy new email address for public information tasks. (Many thanks to Jack for the idea, and Cathleen for the means to do it.)
If you have any emails regarding CERT volunteer events or other CERT public information officer related items; please send any emails to-
Folks, thanks for your help. This will help your volunteer PIO be more effective in the position.
your volunteer PIO

New Calendar For CERT

Hi all ... at the bottom of this page is a google calendar loaded with the CERT events that Terry has been managing as well as the current CERT classes. I would of preferred it up on the toolbar but it just wouldn't fit. :) Please check it out and help out where you can. Don't worry -- I'll remind you about periodically.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fire Prevention Week 2007

As Fire Prevention Week for 2007 slowly draws to a close, take a moment to see if you have done all you can to be fire safe, not only at home, but at work as well.

1- Did you update your home and work escape plan? Does it include two possible escape routes in the event of fire? Do you have a prearranged meeting place?

2- Did you practice your escape plan? The plan is no good unless you actually practice it to see if it works. When practicing your plan, be sure to imagine doing it in smokey conditions. Just because you can get up and walk out in perfect conditions does not mean you will be able to escape when the room is charged with smoke.

3- Did you complete a hazard hunt, both at home and at work? Make sure electrical cords are not frayed, exits are not blocked and nothing is stored too near fire sprinklers. When was the smoke detector last tested?

4- Many residential fires start in the kitchen, so be sure you keep combustible items away from open flames and have a fire extinguisher nearby. If you plan on recreating a flambe recipie you recently saw on tv, make sure you are not doing it under your kitchen cabinets.

5- With the cold weather starting upon us, make sure your chimney is clean before you use it for the first time. Once you have finished with your fireplace, dispose of the ashes properly in a metal container outside of your house. The ashes should be cool to the touch.

For more information on how to be fire safe, be sure to visit the United States Fire Administration Website:

For more information on Fire Prevention Week, visit the National Fire Protection Association Website:


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Calendar for CERT

Hi all ... I'm playing around with a calendar function for CERT. It's not working quite right but I know that. :)

Fairfax County Citizen Corps Website

Thanks to the success of the Fairfax County CERT blog, as part of National Preparedness Month, the Fairfax County Citizen Corps Council created a blog in September.

The blog can be accessed at

Check out the entry Fairfax County Citizen Corps Council New Website Launched. When you view the new website. You will see there is an updated CERT webpage as well.

even MORE !!! upcoming CERT volunteer oppurtunities!

Hi folks!
First off, I wanted to clarify some details regarding this weekend's camporee at the Fairfax County fire and rescue academy.
If you are interested in participating as a volunteer for the camporee, PLEASE email me at .Or, contact Charles Monts of CERT 12 directly at ; he's the organizer of this incredible event.

There is a specific reason for this; If you are NOT on the list to volunteer for this event and just "show up" at the fire academy expecting to help; you will be turned away.
Obviously, the event organizers would REALLY appreciate your help; but they do need to know who is coming out to help.

We've had even more requests for a CERT display presence at some local area events; CERT is getting lots of "face time" at events all over the county. We are getting the CERT "word"out in a big way. Our fellow residents are interested in disaster preparation, and it's showing!
I've just received some requests from the county Office of Emergency Management for a CERT display at two different events. These events are:

Wednesday, October 17th from 11am to 2 pm at Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac is located at 8100 Jones Branch Road in McLean, VA 22102. They are having an emergency preparedness "fair" and would like to have our CERT display there. Basically we would set up our CERT display; talk about CERT to the Fannie Mae employees and hand out disaster preparedness information to them. It's a good oppurtunity to "talk CERT" to these folks! I was wondering if perhaps we had some Freddie Mac employees among our CERT membership; this would be an ideal oppurtunity to help your fellow employees. If your'e interested in manning this display please email me at .

The other CERT display request is for:
Monday, October 22nd at Fannie Mae- There are two locations and two times for this event, which is the Fannie Mae emergency preparedness fair. Again, we would set up our CERT display, give out disaster preparedness information and "Talk CERT" to the fair attendees.

The first location is at 11600 American Dream Way in Reston-the fair at this location runs from 9am to 11am.

The second location (on the same day, Oct. 22nd) is at 13100 Worldgate Drive in Herndon. The emergency preparedness fair here will run from 2:30pm to 4:30 pm

Each of these events will afford us an oppurtunity to spread the very important message of disaster preparedness to an interested group of people. If you would like to represent CERT at any of these events please feel free to email me at .

Your volunteer PIO

For those that participated in the US Army's 911th engineer company disaster drill a few weeks back- certificates of appreciation and a CD of pictures from the event will be mailed to your homes within the next few weeks; per Lt. Branson. He sent me a very nice email thanking us yet again for our efforts; and he RAVED about the great job we did as victims. They truly enjoyed having us there. Being a victim is a good way to learn how to be a better CERT.

He also mentioned another upcoming drill, involving DC fire dept., the Marines, some other assets and the 911th engineer company. The upcoming drill promises to be even larger than the one we just participated in ( And it was pretty good sized!)
He asked if we would be interested in participating in it, the drill runs from October 22nd through the 24th. I will be posting specific details as soon as I get them.
Judy from CERT 29-sounds like a great oppurtunity to use those zip ties! :) Jack, sounds like a good time to start looking for your dog "Gunny" too :) Dirce, sounds like another oppurtunity to be slung over the shoulder of another firefighter :)

Fairfax County Launches Special Needs Registry

(The following is from the Fairfax County Weekly Agenda - Oct 11th)

The online Special Needs Registry (
encompasses two distinct categories - the Medical Needs Registry and the Social Needs Registry. The registry is for residents with medical needs and organizations assisting those with social needs to provide Fairfax County with information so the county can communicate information about emergency preparedness, response and recovery resources to vulnerable, at-risk and hard-to-reach residents.

The Medical Needs Registry will contain the names and addresses of individuals with medical needs who have a high-risk health condition that is either temporary or chronic and who cannot manage for themselves in a shelter or evacuation center; will require assistance in performing the activities of daily living; and/or will require care for and the monitoring of a health condition.
The Medical Needs Registry is voluntary and all information collected will be kept confidential and stored on secure Fairfax County servers.

The Social Needs Registry is a tool used by Fairfax County to facilitate access to groups in need of specialized communications and/or transportation during an emergency. People with social needs are individuals who are vulnerable, at-risk or hard-to-reach in the event of an emergency but are not medically dependent. This includes people with disabilities, limited language proficiency, public transportation dependent and/or household pets and service animals. The nature of the assistance provided will be determined by the individual, the emergency and the resources available to the county. Organizations assisting those with special needs should register with Fairfax County to ensure the safety and well-being of these individuals in an emergency.

The registries may be used for any emergency requiring evacuation, such as flooding, hurricanes, hazardous material spills and gas leaks. The information in the registries will be available to emergency planners and will facilitate the county's preparedness, response and recovery efforts. However, those who are on the registry should still call 9-1-1 in the event of a life-threatening situation.

To register online, visit Residents also may request registration materials and further information by phone or mail: call 703-324-9000, TTY 703-324-9001, or write to the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 565, Fairfax, VA 22035.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Virginia State Animal Response Teams

VASART is seeking volunteers to create local teams that can respond to the needs of animals during an emergency. VASART can coordinate training and resources in order to develop County Animal Response Teams, or CARTs, in every locality throughout the state. VASART is a private-public partnership of organizations, businesses, federal and state government agencies, and volunteers who help animals and their owners to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural and man-made emergencies.

For information about the VASART program, visit If your locality wants to start a local team, contact


Hi folks!
Here is the current list I have of folks who have offered to help with the boy Scout camporee THIS SATURDAY October 13th. Remember, the camporee is being held at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue academy at 4600 West Ox Road ; where we all train. The camporee runs Saturday and Sunday; but our part will be on Saturday only. Here's the current volunteer list I have for the camporee.

Cathleen Tracy
Betty Varholy
Jim Raba
Bob Greenwood

Cathleen, I know you mentioned being able to help from 9am to around 12pm or so. For Betty, Jim and Bob; what times will you be able to help? Charles has not mentioned this so far; but those who are volunteering; I would probably recommend bringing your CERT gear. Please remember folks, THIS CAMPOREE COUNTS AS A CERT REFRESHER TOO! Help the scouts and help keep yourself current as well.
Charles Monts of CERT 12, the event organizer is looking for help at any time on this Saturday; the critical need is for helpers from the 11am to 8pm timeframe. Am I missing anyone who has agreed to volunteer? I'm traveling today without my day planner and feeling a bit brainless.(more so than usual). Charles has been able to organize fire extinguisher training and a visit by the Fairfax county police chopper for the scouts through the efforts of Mike Forgy and Steve Willey,and has organized media coverage as well.
There's still lots of help needed, so if you are interested in helping; please email me at
Thanks !

Volunteer PIO

October 2007 Citizen Corps Newsletter Online ... Fairfax County CERT Mentioned!

The October issue is online in PDF format at it's on page three in the blue sidebar.

As part of National Preparedness Month, Fairfax County, VA, CERT members recently participated in the Fort Belvoir Emergency Response exercise. Members performed various victim roles. CERT members learned about disaster response
through observation and provided first responders with well-needed assistance.

Congratulations to PIO Terry for getting the word out!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

CERT's participate in Alexandria CERT's disaster drill

Hi folks!
Saturday a group of us participated in Alexandria City CERT's disaster exercise drill at John Adams elementary school. We all had a great time and learned a LOT about being a CERT. I encourage each of you who participated to share your experiences from it on the blog. Thanks for your help and thanks to our instructors for the training you provide!
Volunteer PIO


Hi folks!
Just a quick reminder that the BSA "disaster drill camporee is NEXT SATURDAY, October 13th at the Fairfax County Fire and rescue academy (where we take our CERT classes, incidentally). We NEED VOLUNTEERS, still for this event. We're going to help teach the scouts disaster preparedness and actually take them through some disaster drills too. We get to teach what our CERT trainers have taught us.
The times that volunteers are needed are from 9am to 8pm in the evening; but the most critical need is for CERT's between the hours of 11am to 8pm. Safety officers are needed, people to help teach various disaster related skills are needed, we need people to help with logistics. But, we need CERT's. CERT 29 classmembers, would you like to show off what you've learned so far? This is a perfect oppurtunity!
Could you spare a few hours out of your busy lives to help teach and train Scouts? If you can't stay all day; could you give us a 4 hour shift? The organizers of the camporee would be most greatful for any time you could give to help. Charles Monts of CERT 12 is organizing this; we need to give a fellow CERT a hand if we can.
If your'e interested in helping, please email me at Thanks for your help!
volunteer PIO

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Autism Awareness

As you go through CERT (or look to use your experiences and training in your neighborhood), please be thinking about those who may need more help or not necessarily fit well within your expectations. A good example of that may be children or adults in your community who have autism. Scott Campbell went through CERT a few classes back and has put together some resources about autism that every CERT should be familiar with ...

He made a presentation at the Fire Academy last year (I think) that brought up a number of good ideas about how to interface effectively with autistic citizens that I had never heard of ... their love of salt (pass those chips!), their drive to wander and love for water (thus, the constant fear of drowning that their caregivers and love ones have for them). Another key behavior is to warn them (similar to how small children need cues) of what is going to happen so they can prepare ... like how a doctor would show a child what is about to happen on their doll or stuffed teddy. I encourage all of you to learn about the special needs of your neighborhood or community.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

"CERT-ifiably" good volunteer events coming up

Hi folks!
Forgive the lame attempt at humor there; but I wanted to keep you up to date on upcoming CERT volunteer oppurtunities. October 6th is the date of Alexandria CERT's city wide disaster drill, here's the details. Please note that this exercise counts as a CERT refresher.

In case anyone is planning to victim, but did not rsvp, we do not have their contact information to let them know of the changes. Please re-send ASAP the following Invitation Update for immediate dispersal to everyone who got the victim invitations. Thank you.
Alexandria Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) 203, 205, and 207, in conjunction with the Alexandria Office of Emergency Management, request your participation as victims for a mass casualty exercise.
WHAT: The 615 Exercise is Alexandria CERT's first annual full scale exercise. It will be a chance to victim in a simulated mass casualty environment and an opportunity to meet and work with local CERT members.
WHO: 21 years of age minimum, unless otherwise approved; CERT graduates of any jurisdiction, Red Cross volunteers, AVB members, anyone with a public safety background.
WHEN: Saturday, October 6, 2007. Report between 8:45 and 9:00a.m. Please be prompt, as the schedule is very tight. The exercise should close between 12:30 and 1:00.
WHERE: John Adams School at 5651 Rayburn Avenue, one block off Beauregard Street, Alexandria-near the Mark Center. Report to the soccer field behind the school. Look for directional signs beginning at Beauregard.
WEAR: Clothes that you expect to get dirty, torn, cut, burned,and/or blood-soaked. Please dress appropriately for the weather and feel free to bring a blanket if you do not wish to be on the ground.
RSVP: If you have not already done so, please respond to the following email address:
Please provide your full name, telephone, and a list of any similar exercises you may have participated in previously. Please CC# me on the email you send, so I can keep track of who from our CERT is going.CC the email to

The next event is the Boy Scouts of America disaster drill camporee being held at the Fairfax county fire academy (where we train to be CERT's , incidentally)This event is on Saturday, October 13th and our part of it will run from 8am until 8pm (or as long as you can help).Here's who I have listed for helping at this event:
Betty Varholy
Jim Raba
This event counts as a CERT refresher and WE REALLY NEED TO HELP OUT AT THIS EVENT ! We need LOTS of CERT's to help......If you've completed CERT training this is an exceptional oppurtunity to teach others what you have learned and gain refresher points to boot! I know Charles Monts of CERT 12 has put a huge amount of time and effort to make this camporee happen; and I hope you can help him out. If your'e interested in helping please email me at .
Thanks for your help!
volunteer PIO
There are other upcoming volunteer oppurtunities, as I receive the information I'll post it here on the blog.

Tonight's CERT Class

This evening, we will be covering Triage. This class includes how to recognize and treat life threatening emergencies, triage (sorting), and patient record keeping. For students, please bring old blankets and old cut-up (or able to be cut up) t-shirts and rags. Class will run from 7-10:30pm at the Fire Academy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Eight CERTs TERRORIZE the US Army! and live to tell about it....

Hi folks!
Last night myself and other Fairfax County CERT team members participated in a disaster drill staged by the US army's 911th engineer company (technical rescue) at Fort Belvoir. It was an EXCITING drill, folks. An exciting drill and exciting from the turnout by the CERT's. Here's our "victim" list from last night:

Jack Ledgerwood of CERT 4?
Susy Ledgerwood of CERT 4?
John Bauer of CERT 21?
Jon Curl of CERT 28
Dirce Peri of CERT 15
myself- CERT 14
my wife Sharon-not a CERT but good at playing victim! (she has to be, she's married to me :)
and Judy and Ray Howell of our current class CERT 29. Thanks for coming out!

We met at the Fort Belvoir visitor pass and ID center, I called Lt. Branson (our contact) and he met us there. when he got out of his truck it was clear he was surprised by the number of us that showed up. Surprised and VERY happy. He escorted us in our vehicles on post like we were VIP's , we didn't need passes, we showed our licenses and just drove right on.
A short time later we ended up at the 911th's training facility. It reminded me of the fire academy where we train as CERT's, but with a few differences. They have the "rat maze", a building much like our multi purpose building except most of it is underground. Their area is hilly; and criscrossed extensively with underground culverts for extrication training. Oh, they also had a helicopter fuselage and an armored Suburban that they use to train with. All in all, this 40 man company has an impressive array of equipment as well. Arlington county fire dept. provided firemen and equipment for this part of the exercise.
Lt. Branson gave us a tour of the facility, we waited for a while and then got ready for the first part of the exercise. The first part involved a bomb going off in a manufacturing plant and a chlorine spill ensued. Ray Howell and I were the "wet folks"; so Ray buried himself under pallets and I covered myself in lightstick juice and crawled under the HUMVEE in the "plant" ( the company's motor pool building). When you cut open a light stick after shaking it up first, you pour it on something and it lights right up. When I was finished I was emitting so much green light I could have read a newspaper while under the HUMVEE. Judy, Susy,Sharon and Dirce were family members outside the building, Jack was "looking for his wife" and Jon was the "plant manager". John Bauer was a "reporter on the scene" trying to get details of the incident.
The exercise started and I start hearing Jack screaming "Where's my wife"? From this point I'll just describe what I saw; and I'll encourage the other CERT's to relate their experiences. There was so much going on!
I could see Jack (through a small opening in the closed up building) running back and forth in the firemen's faces screaming. He kept the firemen tied up for a good 10 minutes before they finally got into the building where we were. Dry ice had been set out all over the building; and probably two cases of lightsticks had been splattered all over the walls (and us). The inside of this building looked like a really bad hazmat situation ( or a really COOL night club). The firemen came in, did a quick on site triage, got Ray into a portable stretcher that looked like a child's sled and dragged him out. They came back in and grabbed me. They drag me out from under the HUMVEE and pick me up in a two man carry. (Folks, I weigh right at 200 pounds.)These two firemen carry me a good 400 feet to the decontamination station. With two firemen still carrying me we get soaked down with fire hoses. Once this is done, they laid me in the triage area and checked my carotid pulse.(the medics were from Walter Reed army medical center, and that's all they checked on me. Our head to toe assessment is 100 times better than this). They laid me on the ground; I look around and see Susy with an O2 mask on; my wife is dripping wet (they decontaminated her by mistake,oops!) and Jack dancing around asking where his wife is.....I remember Jack putting a bag under my feet (which he'd thoughtfully "liberated" from the ambulance) and I started getting COLD. A blanket was thrown over me; but I was still shivering. Derek mentions the danger of putting a victim directly on the ground; the potential for hypothermia is always present. Well, I started shivering uncontrollably. they put me on a stretcher and put me in the ambulance, where I found Dirce. She was also cold, apparently a fireman tossed her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and carried her away. Jon Curl poked his head in the ambulance; said that Judy was tormenting the fire chief so badly she was tied up with tape and her shoes were taken away! (Judy, you have GOT to get on the blog and tell us what happened!)
At this point the exercise was over and we were thanked profusely for our participation. The Army took pictures and will send pics once the exercise was over (this exercise runs until 6pm Wednesday). We were invited to come back on post and watch if we wanted to .
Thanks to all of the CERT's that participated; I hope everyone had as much fun as I did! I encourage each of the participants to "hop on the blog" and relate their experiences. I saw some of all the mayhem that went on but I'm sure each of you have a great story to tell from this drill.

Volunteer PIO

Monday, October 1, 2007

Multilingual Resources from FEMA

FEMA has posted resources to help our citizens with limited English proficiency levels to receive important life-sustaining and life-saving information when disasters strike. They have flyers, brochures, tri-folds, press releases and public service announcements tailored to provide disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation information. The following lanuguages have some type of information provided:

  • Cambodian

  • Simplifed Chinese

  • Traditional Chinese

  • Japanese

  • Korean

  • Laotian

  • Spanish

  • Tagalog

  • Tigrinya

  • Vietnamese

For more information, please visit