Saturday, March 28, 2009

Another blog worth taking a look at-STATter 911

Hi folks!
The link below is to a very interesting blog site, called STATter 911. Dave Statter is a reporter for local station WUSA channel 9 news. The site has many links,stories and videos from local,state and nationwide emergency response activities. It's well worth checking out!
This is from the blog site-"Since 1972 Dave Statter has covered the news. A good deal of Dave's reporting has focused on how fire and emergency medical services are delivered in and around Washington and Baltimore. Along the way, Dave was also a volunteer firefighter, an emergency dispatcher and a cardiac rescue technician."

Thanks to our CERT member Micah for passing this great link along!

your volunteer PIO

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CERT and the Budget "crunch time" .Three minutes CAN make a difference!

Hi folks,
The title of this post spells it out-it's budget "crunch time". The last dates for public hearings on the county fiscal year 2010 budget are next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This is our last chance to try and change opinion on the budget cut that will hurt OUR CERT program.

If you are interested in saying something about the CERT program and how the FY 2010 budget cuts will affect us, this is your chance. You can go to the county budget web page listed below and sign up to speak.

The board of supervisors' clerk I spoke with today estimates 20 people will be able to speak per hour. So, you will have three minutes in which to talk about what CERT means to you, your family and your community.
The dates available are listed below.

Sign Up to Speak at a Public Hearing at the Government Center:
  • March 30, 7 p.m. (*Note: Speakers list is full this day)
  • March 31, 3 p.m. (Schools presentation at 7 p.m.)
  • April 1, 3 p.m.
  • April 2, 3 p.m.
Remember, the county wants to cut the Management Analyst 2 position/CERT administrators' position out of the fire department budget. Doing this will damage our CERT program.
This action will leave one person in the fire department office of the volunteer liaison.

That one person left will have to manage the entire CERT program (over 500 CERTs) by themselves. That one person will ALSO be managing the administrative affairs of EVERY volunteer firefighter and EMS technician in the county (over 500 people total!) too.

One person, managing around 1000 people. Think about it.............

Below is the excerpt from the FY 2010 budget proposal regarding the cut that affects us. This page says it all.........

Remember, the Fairfax County CERT program is fully paid for with Department of Homeland Security federal grant money. One Management Analyst 2 position in the office of the volunteer liaison merely administers the CERT program. Fairfax County does not spend monies to fund the program itself.
We need more CERTs; we need the opportunity to train more CERTs, and we need continued support on the administrative side to train them effectively.

Three minutes of your time in speaking at the public budget hearings could help keep our CERT program in its' current form. The louder we are, the more inclined the board of supervisors will be in reconsidering this budget cut.

Three minutes can make a difference for all of us.

your volunteer PIO
speaker #109 at the March 31st budget hearing

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The CERT outreach team in action, Teaching, speaking, making it happen!

Last night, your CERT outreach team was in action to promote CERT to county residents.

First, our victim actor coordinator Kevin was working with CERT trainers Jack and Jim.
They were doing a class summary for our current CERT Basic class, CERT 36 in Reston.I hear that a number of CERT 36 members will be attending the upcoming CERT 2 training,and many will be coming to the June final exercise as well. Welcome CERT 36 graduates!

Your volunteer PIO and Judy, our outreach coordinator had another task last night.
We were asked to speak to the Chesterbrook Woods homeowners' association meeting in McLean. We did a presentation on the CERT program to an audience of 100-110 people. We had a great time speaking to a very interested and emergency preparedness minded crowd.

Even in the "off season" between CERT classes, your CERT outreach team-
Kevin from CERT 20-victim actor coordinator
Judy from CERT 29-outreach event coordinator
and me, from CERT 14-your volunteer PIO
are eagerly accepting any opportunity to promote your CERT program to people in the county.

Do YOU have a homeowners' association, scout group or church group that would like to hear about CERT and emergency preparedness? If you do, email me at and we'll be happy to spread the "CERT word".

your volunteer PIO

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


More than 20 Reston area residents and employees completed the CERT Basic training Monday night! The training was conducted at the North Government Center & the Reston Library. Jim Raba, lead instructor, guided the class through the the FEMA curriculum and was supported by Kevin Mullins co-instructor, assisted by Jack Ledgerwood and Lani Young. Guidance was also provided by Steve Wiley & Mike Forgy from the Fairfax Co. Fire & Rescue Dept.

Special thanks go to Supervisor Catherine Hudgins, Hunter Mill District, and her assistant, Merrily Pierce (CERT 35). They arranged the classroom space, promoted the class to the community and are big supporters of the CERT program. Many of these team members have committed to attending the June exercise, so make sure you say hello and welcome them to CERT.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Recent Emergency Response Legislation of Interest to Volunteers

Hi folks!
Below is a snippet from this week's Virginia EM update.For those of us that volunteer in different organizations like Red Cross, Feed the Hungry,etc-this bill would cover those organizations.

New emergency response laws
The 2009 Regular Session of the General Assembly adjourned on Feb. 28, considering several bills that directly and indirectly affect Virginia’s emergency response community. Notable bills that have been submitted to the governor for his signature include:

HB 1983: Provides civil immunity for private and charitable organizations providing resources and assistance, without compensation, pursuant to a governor-declared emergency or during a formal emergency management training exercise, and at the request of the State Department of Emergency Management or a local emergency management employee. The immunity would not apply in instances of gross negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct.

your volunteer PIO

Monday, March 9, 2009

FY 2010 Community Budget Meetings Schedule

Hi folks,
Here is an ideal chance to let the district supervisors know what you think about CERT and the proposed budget cut. Below is a listing of upcoming meetings regarding the FY 2010 county budget.

Why is this important? Here is the "Cliff Notes" synopsis for you- The county wants to cut the Management Analyst 2 position/CERT administrators' position out of the fire department budget. Doing this will damage our CERT program in the process.

In times like these, every SINGLE CERT voice is important....

We are over 500 strong; over 500 amazing, caring individuals who have taken a personal stand-NO we won't be hapless, helpless victims in a major disaster.We have made the commitment-we want to HELP ourselves and others! We are individuals, yet united in a heartfelt desire to help protect our families and communities.

In a county with 1.3 million citizens, 500 members isn't enough. We need more CERTs; we need the opportunity to train more CERTs, and we need continued support on the administrative side to train them effectively.

Lets continue the fight, to keep Fairfax County CERT alive, intact,and prospering- for the sake of our families and our communities.
If you get a chance, go to a meeting and tell our elected leaders exactly what you think.
your volunteer PIO

Tuesday, March 10, 7:15 p.m.
Providence District
Falls Church High School Little Theatre

Tuesday, March 10, 7:30 p.m.
Braddock District Council
Kings Park Library Meeting Room

Wednesday, March 11, 7 p.m.
Providence District
Oakton High School Library

Tuesday, March 17, 7 p.m.
Hunter Mill District
Reston Community Center

Tuesday, March 17, 7 p.m.
Western Fairfax County Citizens Association
Sully Government Center

Tuesday, March 17, 7:15 p.m.
Providence District Council
Dunn Loring Administrative Building

Wednesday, March 18, 7 p.m.
Mason District Spring Town Meeting
Bailey’s Community Center

Thursday, March 19, 7:30 p.m.
Dranesville District
Great Falls Grange

Thursday, March 19, 7:30 p.m.
Springfield Town Hall Meeting
Springfield Government Center

Tuesday, March 24, 7:30 p.m.
Dranesville District
McLean Community Center

Wednesday, March 25, 7 p.m.
Sully District Council
Sully Government Center

Wednesday, March 25, 7:30 p.m.
Lee District Association
Lee District Community Room

Wednesday, March 25, 7:30 p.m.
Dranesville District
Herndon Town Council Chamber

Thursday, March 26, 7:30 p.m.
Springfield Town Hall Meeting
Fairfax Government Center - Rooms 9 and 10

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Got that Fire?

The National Burn Center and the City of Fairfax Fire & Rescue Department are looking for a few good victims. They are conducting an Advanced Burn Life Support course on Wednesday March 18 from 1230 to 1530 and need volunteers. The location is Fire Station 3 in Fairfax City. If you are interested in some 'burning fun' contact for information. Hurry only a few victims are needed.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Alcohol and Fire

Alcohol intoxication may increase the risk of starting a fire by impairing one's judgment and coordination. A smoker, under the influence of alcohol, is more susceptible to falling asleep and dropping a lit cigarette on upholstery or clothing. The effect of alcohol may cause a failure to notice the smell of smoke or hear a smoke alarm, and escaping from a fire can be hampered by the loss of motor coordination and mental clarity, even when warning signs are heeded.

Understanding the Risk
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol use and the resulting impairment may be the strongest independent factor for death from fire. One study found that intoxication contributed to an estimated 40% of deaths due to residential fires. By altering ones cognitive, physiological, and motor functions, alcohol increases the chance of starting a serious fire while at the same time reduces the chance of survival from a fire or burn injury.

Young children, older adults, and those who are dependent on a caregiver are most vulnerable to fire deaths and injuries due to their dependence on others. According to the American Medical Association, the presence of an adult with no physical or cognitive disability who was unimpaired by alcohol or other drugs reduced the risk of death in this group.

Men have been found to consistently outnumber women among fire casualties and do so with even greater disparity for fire victims under the influence of alcohol. In addition, the younger adult population (ages 15 – 24) seems to incur the greatest number of alcohol-impaired fire casualties. Drinking behaviors that are characteristic of each gender and various age groups may explain these findings.

Researchers have suggested that alcohol-related unintentional injuries have more to do with alcohol drinking patterns than the total amount of alcohol consumed per capita. Who drinks, where they drink, what they drink, and under what social, cultural and religious circumstances they drink are perhaps more significant factors than the amount of alcohol consumed. A lone drinker at home is probably at greater risk of a fire emergency than a group of people drinking in a bar or restaurant. Moreover, the number of drinks consumed in a single sitting seems to matter a great deal.

Alcohol and College Students
In cases where fire fatalities have occurred on college campuses, alcohol was a factor. There is a strong link between alcohol and fire deaths. In more than 40% of adult fire fatalities, victims were under the influence at the time of the fire. Alcohol abuse often impairs judgment and hampers evacuation efforts.
Tragic scenarios, too often repeated
Chapel Hill, North Carolina…in the 1996 fraternity fire that killed five students, four of them had blood alcohol levels of over 0.14. This fire broke out following a party the evening before, as had the fire in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania where three males were killed.
Amherst, Massachusetts…a fire the day following a party destroyed the fraternity. There were large numbers of empty beer cans. The smoke alarms had all been covered with bags so they would not activate during the party.

Minimize Your Risk
It is possible to minimize fire risk by increasing the awareness of those who drink and those who are surrounded by regular drinkers. Understand the dangers and don't become a fire statistic!


Sunday, March 1, 2009

The pen is mightier than the sword.....

Hi folks,
I have gotten lots of emails from members of our CERT family concerned with the current budget cut issue. Thanks to all of you, it is quite heartening to get such a large response. CERT means a lot to ALL of us.
Nearly everyone who has emailed has asked for some way to voice their "displeasure" over the budget cut to the board of supervisors as a whole and their own district supervisors. Writing letters so far appears to be the most effective method.

In response to those requests, below is a guide letter you may wish to "cut and paste" for that purpose. A simple form letter gets ones' point across,but I would recommend personalizing it in some way before you send it. The board of supervisors gets letters, petitions and the like on an almost daily basis. If a letter comes from a CERT member who is genuinely,sincerely concerned they may just pay attention to it. Relate your experiences, let the supervisors know what CERT means to you.

These are the email addresses for each district supervisor.

Board Members

* Chairman, At-Large — Sharon Bulova

* Braddock — Vacant, Special Election March 10
* Dranesville — John W. Foust

* Hunter Mill — Catherine M. Hudgins
Lee — Jeff C. McKay
(This address takes you to an online comment form for Mr.McKay)

* Mason — Penelope A. Gross, Vice Chairman

* Mount Vernon — Gerald W. Hyland (again, this is a link to an online
comment form)

* Providence — Linda Q. Smyth (yet another online comment form)

* Springfield — Pat Herrity

* Sully — Michael R. Frey

Keep those letters coming, we may be able to change the outcome of this.
your volunteer PIO

To whom it may concern:

The fiscal year 2010 county budget contains a proposed budget cut which is of deep concern to me. The specific budget proposal is listed in the FY 2010 budget as 001-92-381.The specific line of business number is 92-05.

This cut eliminates the single Management Analyst 2 position from the fire and rescue departments' volunteer liaison office. The removal of this one position will curtail the activities of the Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team drastically.

CERT members nationwide have proven themselves to be an active and vital part of their communities' preparedness and response capability. For example, CERTs have been used to:
Distribute and/or install smoke alarms and batteries to the elderly and disabled.
Assist with evacuations and traffic control.
Promote community awareness of potential hazards and preparedness measures.
Supplement staffing at special events, such as parades.
Act as intelligent and motivated victims for training exercises.

In times of large scale disaster, trained CERT members help their neighbors and their own families when normal emergency response assets are overwhelmed. CERT members become citizens that can decisively help others; rather than being just another victim overtaxing scarce response resources.

The Fairfax County CERT program is fully paid for with Department of Homeland Security federal grant money. One Management Analyst 2 position in the office of the volunteer liaison merely administers the CERT program. Fairfax County does not spend monies to fund the program itself.
As a citizen of Fairfax County I strongly urge you to reconsider the consequences of this cost cutting proposal. This one budget action hampers the ability for all county residents to take useful, well managed, cost effective training to help themselves and others in times of major disaster.
Without the CERT program, over 500 CERT members, their families and their communities lose.