Monday, June 30, 2008

See "Jambalaya Jones" in Action on July 14, 2008

Last month our own Mike Forgy was given a fantastic opportunity to be a part of new cooking show on Discovery Network's newest channel, Planet Green (channel 286 on DirecTv, check your local listings for availability and order it quick!). For more information on the channel, please visit

The concept of the show is celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse shows viewers how to "cook green" using locally grown produce and products. The show was filmed about a mile from his house at a Whole Foods store and was done over two days of shooting. The first day was spent in his house and "on location" at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy. Day two was spent at the Whole Foods store where Emeril and Mike shopped, cooked and eventually ate the items they prepared. Special thanks goes out to the Fairfax County CERT members who assisted on both days.

The New Orleans inspired menu includes Oysters Bienville, Jambalaya, Beignets, and Café Brulot.

So, please mark your calendars for the inaugural night of Emeril Green! The show will be on at 10:00 pm (est) on July 14, 2008. This is the series' kickoff night and there are five shows being aired that night with Mike's appearing next to last. Mike's episode is entitled "Jambalaya Jones."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fairfax County CERT, Neighborhood Watch and "PIO for an evening"-A new partnership

Hi folks!
Someone posted on the blog recently, saying that "things had gotten quiet" after Celebrate Fairfax. Well, behind the scenes CERT has been anything BUT quiet. Derek, Mike and Steve have been very busy; as your volunteer public information officer I get to be the one to tell you about it.

Fairfax County CERT has a new partnership with VIPS (Volunteers in Police Service) / Neighborhood Watch, two of our fellow Citizen Corps organizations. Both of these organizations work within their neighborhoods, just like CERT. If you want more information on these great programs, check out the website. (While your'e there, check out the event calendar. Fairfax County CERT is listed ALL over it........)
Here are the main points of this new partnership.

Neighborhood watch personnel will be coming to speak to our CERT classes, including the September refresher classes. They will be coming out to tell us about their program, and will teach us how to set up and run effective neighborhood watch programs within our own communities.
To reciprocate, CERT's will be doing presentations on OUR program at the neighborhood watch training sessions. These are held quarterly by Fairfax County police department personnel.
By doing this, we teach them about our program, and they teach us about theirs. Both CERT and neighborhood watch can benefit from this training; in an emergency we can work together more effectively within our communities.

It's always exciting to partner with organizations for a common goal; and CERT has a unique opportunity to cement this relationship. Have you ever heard of the National Night out? Here is some info from the website for you.

What is National Night Out?

It's America's Night Out Against Crime!

The "25th Annual National Night Out" (NNO), a unique crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 5, 2008 from 4pm to 9pm.

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT is designed to:

  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs;
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships through organized events like cookouts, street parties; and to
  • Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
This is important stuff, folks.....and Fairfax County CERT has been asked to promote the CERT program on National Night Out in every supervisory district within the county!

We have been asked by the police department to provide a LARGE number (20+) of CERT's who can help. Specifically, we will need TWO or MORE CERT's per police district who can ride along with county police officers to the National Night out events scheduled within each district.

Here is how this event will work. When you arrive at these events (which could be a pool party, a cookout, etc) you will have a chance to speak to the crowds about the CERT program, socialize,"hang out and be hip"; hand out disaster preparedness information and CERT "freebies" . You'll be at one event for 30 minutes or so, hop in the patrol car with your police officer escort and go on to the next event. National Night Out runs from 4pm to 9pm, so you could conceivably go to 5 or 6 different events.

I keep saying "you" because we need YOUR help to make this happen. We need 20 or more CERT's to participate. The participating CERT's will be CERT public information officers for the event; this is a highly publicised national program, hugely! important to the community,and we can generate MANY new members from it. We can also educate our neighbors on the benefits of emergency/disaster preparedness in their own neighborhoods as well.
I want people who can comfortably (and competently) talk about the CERT program; people who feel comfortable talking to groups; people who enjoy socializing with others; people who can smile!while presenting our CERT program to others with the utmost in professionalism.
Folks, presenting a positive "message" to others about the program you represent is one of the most important, hardest yet most rewarding tasks of a PIO. Each CERT who participates will be the "face" of Fairfax County CERT that evening; to the people you meet, you WILL be CERT to them. This is an important task folks.....
FYI-Before the event takes place, I will ask that we have a meeting beforehand to go over CERT "talking points"; some tips on dealing with the public and to give you a box of "freebies". Each CERT working National Night out will be issued a box containing emergency preparedness handouts and freebies for giveaways.
If you want to participate; please email me with your name, and your CERT class. Send the email to and put "national night out-pio for an evening" in the subject line. I hope to see lots and LOTS of CERT's help.

It may have been quiet for a little while; we were just catching our breath.........

your volunteer PIO

Friday, June 27, 2008

Seeing Fireworks

Yeh, I know, here I go again. First, I was spouting the dangers of turkey fryers, denying people the delicacy of a deep fried turkey. Now here I am spreading doom and gloom on a summertime staple, fireworks. If you must light fireworks yourself, think before you act, have a plan in case something goes wrong, be safe and be sober. Now, on to a message from the United States Fire Administration (USFA):

Fireworks account for a substantial number of preventable injuries and fires each year. “Across the nation, residents will celebrate the birth of our nation with fireworks—both legal and illegal,” said U.S. Fire Administrator Gregory Cade. “These pyrotechnics become bigger, brighter, and more dangerous each year. By taking some simple steps for safety, those choosing to use fireworks can ensure they will not end their celebrations by seeking medical treatment for injuries by their use.”

Parents need to be especially vigilant during this period, ensuring children do not possess illegal fireworks or mishandle legal ones. Despite federal and state regulations on the type of fireworks available for sale to the public, even fireworks sold legally carry an elevated risk of personal injury. Because of this, the safest way to enjoy them is through public displays.

Statistics maintained by the fireworks industry indicate Americans used 280 million pounds of display and backyard pyrotechnics in 2007; according to statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), nearly 10,000 Americans were treated in emergency rooms for firework-related injuries. Industry specialists are, once again, forecasting a growth in sales of fireworks during 2008.

The USFA joins with the CPSC to recommend the following safety procedures when using fireworks at any time of year:
* Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
* Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
* Avoid buying fireworks that come in brown paper packaging, as this can often be a sign the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
* Adults should always supervise fireworks activities. Parents often don’t realize there are many injuries from sparklers to children under five. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
* Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. * Move back a safe distance immediately after lighting.
* Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned.
* Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
* Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
* Light one item at a time, then move back quickly.
* Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
* After fireworks fully complete their functioning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding .

Additional information regarding safety issues and the dangers of fireworks can be seen at:


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tentative CERT Refresher Class Dates

Here is a listing of possible CERT Refresher Classes:


All will happen at the Fairfax County Fire Academy. Themes for the classes have not been announced. All dates subject to change. Pencil these in on your calendar and hope to see you there!

CERT June 8th Final a Success!

Over 100 volunteers braved the heat to come support the most recent class in their disaster final on Sunday, June 8th at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy. With a heat index of well over a hundred, our volunteer actor staff signed in, received their condition, got moulaged, briefed, placed and rescued through the full scale exercise.

The CERT students had fire extinguisher training in the morning and then responded to the exercise scenario of a 6.7 magnitude earthquake. They organized, searched the grounds for "victims" and perfomed life saving first aid while keeping themselves safe.

The Order of the Arrow of the National Capital Boy Scouts of America, George Mason District, kept the whole crew of students and volunteers well fed and watered through the event.

A big CERT thank you for all that helped with this event (or with Celebrate Fairfax that was at the same time). It's your time and "Can Do" attitude that makes Fairfax County CERT a premiere quality program. I also want to thank Alexandria for providing evaluators (people who observe our training to help us improve) as well as the rest of the evaluator team, the volunteer instructor staff, the firefighters and fire academy instructors who ran the exercise.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fairfax County CERT assists at Celebrate Fairfax

Hi folks!
It is good to hear of the Herndon/Reston CERT teams assistance with the Herndon festival last weekend. GREAT JOB, FOLKS!!!!!!!
CERT was asked to assist at the Celebrate Fairfax event this past weekend, too. Celebrate Fairfax was held on the grounds of the Fairfax County government center.The CERT portion of this event/"incident" ran Friday 6-9pm, Saturday 9am to 9pm and Sunday 9am to 6pm.
We helped the county fire and rescue department with two seperate functions; running the child registration booths on the event grounds and running "interference" for EMS teams when sent out to assist the injured. There were three lost child registration stations on site. In addition to this, CERT had a booth set up in the county expo area; using our new CERT "wall" display (thank you Patty G!) with all new graphics (thank you Denise H.!). We also had our first ever "freebies"-LED crank flashlights that need no batteries (THANK YOU!!! Jeffrey Katz, our county fire and rescue dept.volunteer coordinator).
In effect; this weekend we did outreach on two unique and distinctly different levels-informational,"static" outreach through efforts at the CERT booth; and "operational outreach"-by showing the community CERT teams in action.

The child registration booths were extremely popular this weekend; for those unfamiliar with the concept here is a short explanation of how they worked. A parent would come up and give us the child's name and age, their cell number; and their own name. A small sticker was then placed on the child's back. This sticker had information on whether the child had allergies, if they could have a snack if found, etc. There were no names on the sticker; just a unique number assigned just for the child. No names were used on the tickets for security purposes. The parent was given a small sticker with the same number.
We then told each child to tell a fireman or policeman if they were lost or seperated from their parents. The FD/ police personnel would then escort the child to the "lost parents" booth and call the parents so they could come and get them. The parent shows their sticker to the people in the lost parent booth; if they matched the parent was quickly reunited with their child. (Just think, a valet ticket to reclaim their little ones, what a simple and smart idea!)
Parents registered their children ALL WEEKEND; the parents were 1000% happy with the quick signup process and the safety aspects of the stations. Lots of them asked about the CERT program; so I got some of the CERT " business cards and placed them in the booths. The parents had their hands full with little ones so this was the easiest way to get them interested in CERT.

We also assisted with EMS calls for assistance; by helping keep the crowds back and ensuring the EMS crews had plenty of room to work in. Folks, it was dangerously!! hot this weekend, with the heat and humidity coming up so quickly nobody had a chance to acclimatize to it. This resulted in lots and lots of heat related injuries. This was interesting work; and it helped the EMS people to get the victim to medical care quickly.
During the fire dept. official briefings we were also asked to be on the lookout for potential medical problems among the people in the crowd (the fire dept. called these folks "LLS"-for people who "looked like, well, "stuff"...:). These were the folks not sweating; looking tired,red faced, hot, dizzy and not altogether mentally "there"....IE, potential heat stroke/heat exhaustion cases. We were asked to spot these people and engage them. In effect, we were trying to help these folks before they got worse.
"Hey neighbor, you look a little warm; come and sit down in the aid station for a minute, here's some nice cool water, enjoy the fan for a little while.Enjoying the fair? Let's just sit and chat". Cool them down, get some fluids in them and send them on their way. Folks, this was "neighbor helping neighbor" at it's finest and we all did this throughout the weekend.

Each CERT who helped at Celebrate Fairfax stayed longer than their assigned shifts;because we were needed. Their devotion to duty is commendable. The fire and rescue department welcomed us, included us in their official briefings each morning; fed us well; treated us like rock stars!!! and we worked side by side, together, all weekend.Here's the CERT "Celebrate Fairfax crew". Job well done, folks...

Judy H.
Robin V.
Marco J.
Jack L.
Susy L.
Bob from CERT 29
Patty G.
Kevin M.
Sharon A. (my missus; our CERT "runner")

It was hot, it was a long! weekend but each of us got to participate in this event as an integral part of the county fire and rescue response efforts. We were all hot tired and sweaty; but I think I can say we were all excited to be a part of it.
CERT in two weeks, in two seperate events have been used operationally. We have had VERY positive feedback from both events; and we hope to be able to do it again.
Taking community outreach into new and exciting directions,

your volunteer PIO

Thursday, June 5, 2008

CERT assists Fairfax County Fire & Rescue at Herndon Festival

CERT members provided operational assistance at the 2008 Herndon Festival which occurred May 29th thru June 1st. We were assigned tasking by the on-site command based upon the number of CERT members available at any given time. The CERT members were assigned to run teams which either strolled the grounds in case of need or responding to a known situation. The duties that were performed with the run teams included providing extra support and stability to a stretcher in transit, clearing a path in the crowds for the stretchers and personnel, keeping a watchful eye on a scene for safety while the EMT’s were treating the patient and many other small, but necessary, tasks. While at the First Aid Station, assistance was provided in the daily set up and/or take down of equipment, giving of directions, comforting lost children (even one for a second time), and providing screening while patients were being attended too.

The CERT members were quickly integrated within the command and made to feel welcome by all members of the Fire & Rescue. This event also provided an ideal opportunity to provide awareness to the CERT program both with the Fire & Rescue members and the general public.

A big Thank You! goes out to CERT members, Lani Young, Jack Ledgerwood, Susy Ledgerwood, Jim Raba, and Pam Peacock for their efforts throughout the four day event. As with any event, some days were busier than others, but more CERT folks would have been welcome. Please consider helping out these events in the future, you get the great opportunity to watch and learn from the best, that is Fairfax County Fire & Rescue.

Jack Ledgerwood

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Paulison is Prepared -- Are You??

FEMA Administrator Paulison discusses what he does to be ready for hurricanes and severe weather at
He has:

  • Checked his generator and its fuel

  • Bought new batteries for flashlights and radio

  • Checked the storm shutters to make sure they were in good shape

  • Confirmed tarps and duct tape were on hand in case of storm damage

  • Ensured enough prepared food and water on-hand to support his family for at least three days

How do you stack up? What else do you do to stay prepared?

Monday, June 2, 2008

CERT Spring 2008 Exercise: TIME CHANGES

Hi all,

All attending the CERT Spring 2008 Exercise should be to the academy at 9am. Did I say 9am? Yes that would be 9am! This is the time for both students and actors to arrive! PLEASE CARPOOL together.

The meal has been shifted to "breakfast" and we plan on dismissal being 1:30 pm.

In summary:
all students and actors arrive at 9am
you will be fed breakfast
goal is to clear out by 1:30pm

See you then!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Celebrate Fairfax is next Saturday and Sunday, and boy do I need a "six pack"!!!

Hi folks!
I'll take a "six pack of CERT's," actually. Celebrate Fairfax is coming up next weekend at the Fairfax County government center. It runs Friday June 6th from 6pm to 9pm, Saturday June 7th from 10am to 9pm and Sunday June 8th from 10am to 5pm.
We will be there with the CERT booth and we are also working the lost child stations in conjunction with the Fairfax County fire and rescue department. That's where the "six pack of CERT's" come in.
We still need 6 volunteers to adaquately cover the lost child stations on the fair site. Here's what we need:

Saturday June 7th-We need 3 volunteers to cover 3 booths from 5pm to 9pm.

Sunday June 8th-We need one CERT to cover 1 lost child booth from 10am to 1pm; and
we need two CERT's to cover 2 lost child booths from 1pm to 5pm.

Would you be interested in helping out for these specific shift times? We are providing assistance and logistical support to the fire department personnel running the lost child booths. It's a great way to do something useful and needed with your CERT skills; it's a great way to get into the fair and it's going to be a lot of fun too.
If you are interested please email me at with the shift time your'e interested in doing in the subject line. Thanks in advance for your help on this; and thanks to all the CERT's already signed up to help at Celebrate Fairfax. We have already had a REALLY good response from the CERT membership! but we need "just a few more" to help.
If your'e interested, email me!

your volunteer PIO