Thursday, July 31, 2008

Paulison Pontificates on Preparedness

In today's Leadership Journal, Paulison reminds America that Preparedness is a civic responsibility.

" are the first line of defense to any emergency or disaster and by taking steps to prepare you will not only be able to sustain yourself and your family for up to 72 hours or 3 days; but you will be freeing up valuable resources and allowing first responders to get to those who can't take care of themselves first."


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One CERT takes disaster preparedness across the seas!

Hi folks!
I thought you all might be interested in the summertime activities of one of our CERT members. Andrew Levy, a graduate of CERT 15 is currently in the Philippines. He is in country as part of his company's "corporate peace corps" program, and he's using parts of his Fairfax County CERT training to help better the lives of people over there. He has a blog site where he is chatting about the different emergency preparedness activities he's helping teach.
Andrew runs the "neighbors helping neighbors" blog; you can take a look at his daily adventures at . I encourage you to take a look; there are tons of interesting disaster prep links there too.
And they are adventures, folks. Some of the training and teaching he's doing look to be REALLY exciting! ICS drills; terror bombing response,first aid competitions,water rescues (and dance team judging?)...... I wonder if the Filipinos have had the "pleasure" of Andrew as a victim in disaster drills yet :)
A big "YOU ROCK" goes out to Andrew for helping spread the Fairfax County CERT "word" far and wide......

your volunteer PIO

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Draft National Disaster Housing Strategy Released For Public Comment

The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)released the draft National Disaster Housing Strategy for a 60-day public comment period. The Strategy summarizes, for the first time in a single document, the many sheltering and housing capabilities, principles, and policies that guide and inform the disaster housing process. The Strategy also charts the new direction that our disaster housing efforts must take to better meet the disaster housing needs of individuals and communities moving forward.

For more information as well as how to place comments please visit

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fire Department Drill 7/19

On Saturday, July 19, over 30 victims came out to Herndon High School to help out the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department with a mass casualty drill. We met out at the bleachers and quickly got into character with the help of our moulage artists Suzy & Terry. Capt. Stanley & Lt Goff described that the drill scenario was a car, driven by a medically distressed person and his passenger, that crashed into the school bleachers. Our victims were scattered all over and in wide ranges of injuries. The car had a large 2x4 through the windshield, nearly impaling the driver. Capt. Stanley dispatched the units in stages, just as it would happen in the real world. As the rescue units arrived the command and rescue structures were immediately set up. The victims were tagged according to their injures and removed to safe locations as quickly as possible. Everyone was treated and transported (around the block in an air conditioned ambulance). Special mention goes to our Academy Award winners Anna and Cassandra, for Outstanding Performance in a Disaster. I encourage the victims to express their thoughts to this blog, so others can read what a great time we had. Thanks to the Fire Department and Vienna VFD for the great chow afterwards. If you haven't consider volunteering as a victim, you are missing a great time and a learning experience.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Here's a unique victim opportunity for you!

Megan, one of our CERT members sent this to me. It is a chance to play victim in a rather unique and very interesting scenario. Participants must be 18 years of age or older...........If you are interested, contact Steve Carlson at 410-230-8021 or Mike Oberst at 410-230-8022 directly.
your volunteer PIO

August 2, 2008 9:00am – 2:00pm

We need fans of the Baltimore Ravens to participate as actors/victims in a full-scale emergency management exercise to help us review the essential elements of emergency preparedness and response at M&T Bank Stadium. The day-long event will start at 9:00 am on August 2, 2008 and end at approximately 2:00pm. The Baltimore Ravens, the City of Baltimore, and the State of Maryland are testing response procedures at M&T Bank Stadium, which will serve as a hypothetical site under “attack”. Representatives of “first responders” – police, fire, volunteer agencies, stadium officials, and others – will be actively playing in dealing with this type of emergency.

This exercise is important to the safety of the Baltimore Ravens fans and players as the exercise capitalizes, reinforces, and provides feedback to the First Responder Community. It will also help us to develop, sustain, and provide feedback of emergency response operations as this is a great learning opportunity for the responders to examine the unique aspects of responding to a terrorist incident at our stadium.

*** Free parking will be available in lot B and free food, non-alcoholic beverages and entertainment will be provided to you throughout the day as well as a Raffle Drawing for Prizes. All volunteers will be issued a raffle ticket making them eligible to win great Ravens items plus one large flat screen TV will be raffled off at the conclusion of the exercise. ****
If you are interested in helping your favorite team, please contact Steve Carlson at 410-230-8021 or Mike Oberst at 410-230-8022.

Friday, July 18, 2008

CERT and National Night Out/ "PIO for the evening"-a change, but oh yes, you want to be there!

Hi folks!
We're still looking for more volunteers to participate in the National Night Out event being held Tuesday August 5th from 5:30 to 9:00 pm. The event will concentrate on the Fair Oaks police district, rather than county wide as previously mentioned.

We're still looking for volunteers who want to be a "PIO for the evening"-telling people at the various NNO events scheduled about our CERT program. Being a CERT is a great thing, telling people about the program is always a lot of fun too.

Think about it-in real life, how many people get to lift and crib a 9,000 pound piece of bridge using materials at hand? Triage a hundred injured people and keep them alive using duct tape? How many citizens get to train at the fire academy? How many people have "Jambalaya Jones" training them? :)

Not many, folks. CERT has offered all of us some pretty interesting and unique training opportunities; ones that "John Q. Public" never get to do. On National Night Out we get our chance to relay those experiences to the people. We get to ride around in police cruisers, and talk about disaster preparedness to our neighbors.

We are still looking for people to "talk CERT" to the crowds. If you're personable, professional and want to share in your excitement at being a Fairfax County CERT member (wait, I just described every CERT here!) please, come out and help.

If your'e interested, email me with your name, the CERT class you were in, and your date of birth. I know your'e interested, so come on and let's show the people what CERT is all about!
your volunteer PIO

Thursday, July 17, 2008

CERT Tiered Approach Listed in VDEM Weekly EM Update

A nice synopsis of the Fairfax County CERT classes appeared in Here is the text in full:
Fairfax County's Community Emergency Response Team program is introducing a new tiered approach to training citizen responders. Instructors will offer the current course at three levels that build upon each other.

* CERT is the original Federal Emergency Management Agency course.
* CERT Level 2 is the original FEMA course with additional hands-on training and applications of learned skills, which Fairfax County CERT has taught for the past five years.
* CERT Level 3 will offer added training for CERT Level 2 members to integrate them into existing county incident command structures. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue instructors and other county agencies will lead the course, which will require a member background check and written and practical examinations. Upon successful completion, CERT Level 3 members will be provided accountability credentials and join the county call-out system, a plan that is currently under development.

July 19th Drill-ADDRESS CHANGE

The address of the drill being held at Herndon High School is 700 Bennett Street, Herndon VA. Meet at the bleachers at 0630.
Sorry for any confusion.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Episode: "Jambalaya Jones"

When you live in New Orleans for so long the food just becomes a part of your life. It's the sizzle of andouille sausage or the smell of hot chicory coffee and fresh beignets. But what if you've fallen in love with the flavors of New Orleans and want to recreate those memories? Chef Lagasse helps Mike, who spent time responding to the needs of Katrina victims, recapture the flavors in his jambalaya.

I was able to catch our own Mike Forgy on TV last night -- thanks again for all the CERTs who came out to play that evening (as well those at Whole Foods) -- I think I got a glimpse of almost everyone! The front part wasn't nearly as cheesy as I feared and once Mike owned up to his rice problem, the episode went swimmingly. The food looked mouth-watering and it was nice to see that Mike has some serious knife-skills in the kitchen!

Way to go Mike!

Monday, July 14, 2008

National CERT Group - CERT connecting to CERT One Neighbor and Community at a time.

There were several non-location specific CERT groups on Linked In and the managers of those five groups got together to form this one group, linking CERT volunteers across the United States.

Please note: This is not a new CERT team, but a way to link CERT volunteers.

July 19 School Mass Causality Drill

The drill with Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department this July 19th will be held at Herndon High School located at 700 Bennett Street, Herndon, VA 20170. The drill starts at 0700, we'll need the victims there at 0630. The drill should be completed by no later than 1400. We are still looking for young victims, we can accept 10 year olds and up to act as 'students'. Please refer anyone you may know who may be interested. Eats will be provided for the victims after the drill. Appropriate victim clothing, shoes, water and sunscreen is encouraged. For more information, please contact

Sunday, July 6, 2008


We are looking for victims for a couple upcoming events.

Our July 19th opportunity is at the Fire & Rescue Training Academy from 8-1 which will simulate a middle-high school mass casualty event. This is a great opportunity to help out the Fire Department who supports us in many ways.

The Capital Shield exercise on October 27 is an all day event with many opportunities for victims. There will be teams from various federal, state and local operations attending. See what the best of the best can do. CERT personnel are encouraged to sign up, as we will have a call-up role and will count towards the annual refresher.

Your recruitment of victims is always appreciated. Remember we give school community service certificates.

Email with your expression of interest. Your subject line should mention the drill(s) of your choice.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

CERT responders! and victims needed for Capitol Shield exercise

Hi folks,
I hope every one had a great 4th of July. This has been a great week for CERT! We had the announcement of the new tiered CERT structure, announcement of our new partnership with Neighborhood Watch AND we got to celebrate our nation's birthday all in the last five days. As you sit and read, I can just bet your'e thinking, " So, what's next?" Funny you should think that......................

Fairfax County CERT members have been asked to participate in the Capitol Shield mass casualty exercise scheduled for Monday, October 27th. The Capitol shield exercise is a HUGE exercise held within the DC area/National Capitol Region, designed to improve the capabilities of disaster response and mitigation at a national level. This exercise brings many federal, state, and local departments together to train; with an emphasis on homeland defense, continuity of operations and mitigation of disaster. During this exercise, responder units from counties all over the area, as well as FEMA, secret service, US army, US Navy, Dept. of Homeland Security, etc. work side by side.

Here is our part in the exercise. The exercise is tentatively scheduled to be held at the old Lorton prison site in Lorton, and will be an all day exercise. As I get better info on the times I will post it to the blog.

Fairfax County CERT will provide actor/victims to the mass casualty part of the exercise in the morning.
After that part is over, Fairfax County CERT will then provide RESPONDERS as a follow on to the event. We will be integrated within the Command and Control structure that already exists and be given tasks. Effectively, we will be "called up" to assist in this event.(Yes, go ahead and pinch yourself.You aren't dreaming. CERTs will be working as responders!)

Folks, this could prove to be VERY exciting for us. Per Derek, we will need as many CERTs to participate as possible . This will count as a CERT refresher class, folks (because we will be a response component).
In addition, we also need non CERT victim actors. If you are interested in participating in this exciting exercise, please email me at and put "Capitol Shield exercise" in the subject line.
If you know of a non CERT victim that would like to participate,please have them email Kevin, our victim actor coordinator at . Have them place "Capitol Shield exercise" in the subject line as well. Remember, the "more the merrier" so if you are interested in participating let us know.
This should prove to be an exciting experience for all of us!

your volunteer PIO

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Outdoor Cooking Fire Safety

The Fourth of July is almost here and many of us will be cooking, or attending events where outdoor cooking will take place. Much like the turkey fryers, outdoor cooking on a gas or charcoal grill can be dangerous, especially when you add alcohol and the presence of children. Being aware of your surrounding is important and staying sober while working near open flames is the smartest way to go.

Gas and charcoal grills are responsible for 3,400 structure fires in or on home properties, resulting in a combined direct property loss of $137 million. Gas-fueled grills caused an estimated 2,800 home structure fires and 4,400 home outdoor fires in 2005. Charcoal and other solid-fueled grills caused an estimated 600 home structure fires and 500 outdoor fires.

Charcoal Grills:

Purchase the proper starter fluid and store the can out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.

Propane Grills:

Check the gas cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will quickly reveal escaping propane by releasing bubbles. If you determine your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame:
1. Turn off the gas tank and grill.
2. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
3. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill. (For those who have been in recent classes, remember, do as I say, not as I do......)

Use only equipment with the label of a recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.

Never store propane gas cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.

Barbecue Safety Tips:

Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.

Position the grill well away from siding, deck railing, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.

Keep children and pets from the grill area: declare a three-foot "safe zone" around the grill.

Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking.

Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.

Be safe, cook smart and eat well this holiday and every day.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

CERT, CERT 2 and CERT3-more excitement from Fairfax County CERT

Hi folks!
Here is another exciting development in the CERT program. This is the press release for the new tiered CERT levels. As you can see; this new program will get many, many more people interested in disaster preparedness. Derek, Mike and Steve look forward to your comments!
The best thing is, there's more to come.
your BUSY!! volunteer PIO



Tuesday,July 1st,2008


The Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team is recognized for its advanced training techniques and outstanding performance. In order to capitalize on the success, an innovative tiered CERT program is being introduced. The current CERT program will be divided into three levels, each level providing increased training and capabilities.

CERT will be taught using the existing FEMA provided curriculum but with the removal of patient carries, lifting and cribbing. This provides the ability to make the course completely mobile. Utilizing the current volunteer instructor cadre as instructors, this course will be taught to community groups, faith based communities, and others throughout Fairfax County. CERT will take approximately 12 ½ - 15 hours of time over 5 or 6 classes to conduct plus a final exercise. CERT will greatly expand the opportunities to teach residents the need for disaster preparedness in a unique and interactive way.

CERT Level 2
The existing Fairfax County CERT training program will stay as CERT Level 2. This course provides much greater hands-on training and multiple applications of learned skills. The class is 28 hours plus the final exercise. The optional “bridge” course to move from CERT to CERT Level 2 will require 17.5 hours over 5 classes. Students may also start at CERT Level 2 if they choose.

CERT Level 3
This level will take a trained and motivated CERT Level 2 member and provide additional training for integration within existing county incident command structures. This short 12 hour course will be lead by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue instructors and other county agencies. The course will require a member background check in addition to a written and practical examination that requires a passing score. Upon successful completion of this course, members will be added to the county call out system and will be provided accountability credentials.

For media inquiries please contact