Friday, October 30, 2009

Change your clock, change your battery

This Saturday night, as you are packing up the Halloween candy, be sure to turn your clock back. WHile doing so, also change out the battery in your smoke alarm. Also, if your alarm is close to 10 years old, replace it.
For more information on smoke alarms, visit the USFA website:


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Fire Safety

Halloween is fast approaching and here are a few fire safety tips to help make the spooky season a lot less scary.

Buy only costumes, wigs and props labeled flame-resistant or flame-retardant. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won't easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. Avoid using billowing or long trailing features. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.

Provide children with lightweight flashlights to carry for lighting or as part of their costume.
Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candles in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn including trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.

Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.

Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)

Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.

If your children are going to Halloween parties at others’ homes, have them look for exits and plan how they would get out in an emergency. We know training and exercising your kids to exit a structure which may be on fire is part of your home safety plan, but it is important to emphasis they need to do this on their hands and knees after they have identified a way to get out. Haunted Houses are specifically designed to disorient people, and with open candles, candles in pumpkins and mulitiple extension cords in use, it is imperative to find a way to exit as soon as you enter.

Lastly, be sure to brush your teeth after eating all that candy.


Sunday, October 25, 2009


CERT classes 40 & 41 conducted their final exercise of their training Saturday. They were supported with 78 actors who came out in the rain to simulate a mass disaster. The CERT students were most appreciative of the time donated and the acting abilities of these volunteers. The weather just made the drill so much more realistic. A special shout out to Robinson Secondary School for such a great turn-out. We hope you all enjoyed the day and you will consider taking a CERT course in the future, as well as being an actor again. Thanks for your help!

Upcoming actor opportunities

Our actors are always in demand and we receive a constant stream of requests for their help. These opportunities not only help train first responders, but as an actor you always come away with a bit of knowledge--win-win. Consider volunteering.

These are the upcoming opportunities available:

OCT 29 - 0900-1700 Fort Belvoir, past events have been awesome, contact Michael Guditus, Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management 571-350-1011 for details.

NOV 6-8 - 1900-0100 Urban Search & Rescue, Three days/nights of fun with our nationally recognized rescue teams and dogs. Lots of different shift times. Contact (Capt) or for information by no later than Nov 2.

NOV 14-VRE Emergency Simulation Drill, rescue on a train! For details

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

****H1N1,MRC and CERT-important clinic operational changes for you***

Dear CERT and Fire and Rescue Volunteers:

I would like to thank everyone for stepping up and volunteering their time to help with the H1N1 vaccination clinics.
As you can see from the email below, the Health Department has had to change their distribution plan. As of now, there will only be one Vaccination Clinic held at the Government Center on Saturday, October 24th, open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Due to the anticipated crowds, MRC is still in need of CERT volunteers from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.

If you would still like to volunteer, please send an email to Dana Powers at indicating that you are willing to help out. Please specify the hours that you are available to be there.In addition, please include your CERT class number and a valid phone number. As with the previous request, CERT basic, CERT 2 and CERT 3 members are elgible to participate.

At this time, we do not have a point of contact or any other specific information relating to this event. The Medical Reserve Corps will keep us informed as plans progress.

Thank you again for your help with this very important operation.

Jeffrey F. Katz
Volunteer Liaison
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue

On the evening of October 16, the Fairfax County Health Department was informed about 2009 H1N1 vaccine production delays, which has impacted the entire nation and resulted in uneven availability. As a result, the Health Department has had to adjust mass vaccination plans to match the limited supply of vaccine currently available, which is significantly less than anticipated.

The Health Department currently does not have enough vaccine available for the vaccination effort we planned to hold in the ten schools on October 24 and 25. Instead, the amount of vaccine currently available will be distributed to children (age range to be defined later this week) and pregnant women on Saturday, October 24 at the Fairfax County Government Center, located at 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035 .

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ADDITIONAL DETAILS FOLLOW-CERT operational role October 24th/ 25th-support of Medical Reserve Corps activation for H1N1 vaccination site operations

Each of you should have received the email from Dana Powers and Jeffrey Katz this week. The email mentions that the Fairfax County health department activated the county Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).MRC will be conducting H1N1 flu vaccine dispensing activities in 10 vaccination sites county wide on Saturday, October 24th and Sunday October 25th.
The sites will be open from 10am to 4pm on both days.

CERT help has been requested in support of these operations. This is an operational role folks; CERT has been asked to provide external support for the 10 POD (point of dispensing) sites to be opened next weekend. MRC has mobilized almost 1000 volunteers for dispensing site operations and they need our manpower and our skills.

Our role as CERT members will be twofold-the first is parking lot operations. We will direct people into parking spaces when they drive into the POD sites.The POD sites are listed below. This may sound like a less than glamorous job; but I can tell you some of these sites have less than 150 parking spaces available and very large crowds are expected. CERTs working parking lot operations will effectively be ensuring the safety of every client that comes to the site. Glamorous job? No. Important job? Absolutely!!!!!!

I can assure you; it will be a challenge to get people safely parked and to keep citizens from running over each other while in these parking lots. Fairfax County police will be on site in all POD sites; they will generally be located inside the vaccination sites assisting with crowd control duties.

Langston Hughes Middle school in Reston
Franklin Middle school in Chantilly
Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church
Kilmer Middle school in Vienna
Glasgow Middle school in Alexandria
Key Middle school in Springfield
Sandburg Middle school in Alexandria
Liberty Middle school in Clifton
Frost Middle school in Fairfax
South County Secondary school in Lorton.

The second CERT duty will be to direct people to the vaccination site entrance and keep them in line. Intake and screening activities will be conducted by MRC members as soon as they enter the door. Folks, this area will act similarly to our own CERT medical treatment sites-they will be empty at first and then fill up/bottleneck very quickly. In a mass vaccination scenario such as this, a person coming to the site can (on average) expect a two hour wait to complete the process. People will be standing in line for a while, with their children. This will be a challenging task . People will be filling out forms as soon as they come in the door; so our task here is to keep people in line, keep them calm and help keep the line running smoothly.

The only people to be vaccinated at these sites next weekend is children from six months of age to 18 years. These are the age groups most susceptible to H1N1 flu (other risk groups for H1N1-pregnant women and adults over 65 with underlying medical conditions will NOT be vaccinated). So,in these parking lots we manage there will be families and children. Keeping them safe in the parking areas will be our responsibility.

The medical reserve corps badly needs our help. Would you like to step up to the task? They know that the CERT 40/41 exercise is on Saturday October 24th-MRC can use our help on both days; or just one day if you can. If you want to help with a challenging and useful duty to our community, please email Jeffrey Katz at and Dana Powers at with your name, a cellphone number and your CERT class number. This operational role is available to ALL Fairfax County CERT members.

I leave you with some statistics on the current H1N1 flu situation, which was pulled off the CDC website at .

Thanks to all of you for helping out; your community will thank you!

your volunteer PIO
and MRC site assistant

2009-2010 Influenza Season Week 40 ending October 10, 2009

All data are preliminary and may change as more reports are received.

During week 40 (October 4-10, 2009), influenza activity increased in the U.S.

* 4,093 (29.4%) specimens tested by U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) collaborating laboratories and reported to CDC/Influenza Division were positive for influenza.
* All subtyped influenza A viruses being reported to CDC were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses.
* The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was above the epidemic threshold.
* Eleven influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported. Ten of these deaths were associated with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection and one was associated with an influenza A virus, for which subtype is undetermined.
* The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was above the national baseline. All 10 regions reported ILI above region-specific baseline levels.
* Forty-one states reported geographically widespread influenza activity, Guam and eight states reported regional influenza activity, one state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico reported local influenza activity, and the U.S. Virgin Islands did not report.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Help Wanted: Actors

We are in need of people to play the role of "victims" for the upcoming Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) drill scheduled for October 24, 2009. As a victim you will be expected to play your role as realistically as possible. You will receive "make-up" to show "wounds" and will have fake blood placed on your clothes. As such, please dress for the elements (we have the drill rain or shine) as you will be waiting outside to be found, in clothes that you can get very dirty, stained, and possibly even torn. Some of you may also be called upon to assist the rescuers in performing their duties. You may participate in any way you feel comfortable.

This is a very exciting opportunity to help your community. Live "victims" are essential to providing high quality training, and you'll learn quite a bit too! We'll even throw in a meal. You need to arrive at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy (4600 West Ox Rd. Fairfax, VA) by 9:30am. The drill should be completed by 3:00pm. We will need you to participate for the entire time. However, if you need to leave early due to an emergency, just let a Controller know so we can account for you. Due to limited parking, it is requested you carpool as much as possible.

The schedule for the date usually goes something like this:

9:00am - Arrive and park.
9:30am - Check in. You'll be registered and your contact information taken. You'll be given a card with a set of "injuries" you are to act out.
9:45am - 10:30am- You'll start in the makeup process. While this does not take much time, there is a wait to get through.
10:30am – You will be provided a meal and the lead instructor will give you a brief presentation on safety issues, and what to expect.
11:00am - 11:15am - You will be escorted to the area where you will be "trapped" or laying about.
11:15pm - The Drill begins. The rescuers will search, sort the victims by severity, extricate those who are trapped, and transport all victims to a treatment area.
2:30pm - Victim checkout, debrief, and "thank-you's" from the students.

We prefer adults, but will gladly accept minors 15 years and older with signed parental consent (contact for the form) and a full understanding of what's involved. If you would like a child younger than 15 to participate, they must be accompanied by a responsible adult who will not participate as a victim but will stay near the child during the entire exercise. At checkout you can receive a certificate signifying 6.5 hours of community service provided.

Please give your name, phone number and E-mail address to and let them know you read about it on the blogspot.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Fairfax County Health Departmentand Fairfax County medical reserve corps has requested CERT assistance on Saturday,October 24 and Sunday October 25th from 10am to 4 pm CERT help is requested at various middle school locations in Fairfax County.

The Health Department ,along with the Medical Reserve Corps are planning mass H1N1 vaccination clinics for school age children and other risk groups. They are anticipating large crowds.

MRC is looking for 3-4 CERT members each at 10 local schools to help with parking lot control. The tentative schools are-

Hughes Middle school in Reston
Franklin Middle school in Chantilly
Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church
Kilmer Middle school in Vienna
Glasgow Middle school in Alexandria
Key Middle school in Springfield
Sandburg Middle school in Alexandria
Liberty Middle school in Clifton
Frost Middle school in Fairfax
South County Secondary school in Lorton.

All CERT levels are encouraged to volunteer on this call for assistance.
Contact to sign up, need name, phone #, CERT #, date(s) and school that you can help out at.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CERT Volunteers requested for an MRC training clinic Saturday, October 17th

The Fairfax county Medical Reserve Corps has asked CERT to provide 10 to 15 CERT volunteers to assist with a training clinic they are conducting on Saturday,October 17. The tentative time for this clinic is from 7am to 2pm or so. The times are being finalized.

This activity is open to both CERT Basic and CERT 2 class graduates. If you are interested in assisting with this clinic, please email me at with your name, email address,a good phone number and your CERT class number. I will more pass on more information as soon as it becomes available.

your volunteer PIO

Monday, October 12, 2009

CERT at the Fire Department open house event!

Hi folks!
On Saturday, October 10th a number of CERT's helped "talk CERT" at the fire and rescue department open house event. CERT members were in 5 stations for this event-McLean, Vienna, Centreville, Burke and Woodlawn/Alexandria.
CERTs manned outreach booths in these locations, talking to citizens about CERT and emergency preparedness. In the Woodlawn station, CERT members conducted demonstrations of CERT capabilities as well as manning a CERT info booth here. This was a fun event for the CERTs and informative for the citizens who learned about us.
Being in these fire stations for the day was great! We got to see the stations; the people in each of the stations treated us like family. We all had a great time!
Here are the people who helped, give them a huge "YOU ROCK"for their efforts! An album of pictures from the stations are on the Fairfax county CERT Facebook page at

#1 McLean
Lani from CERT 4
Sandra from CERT 34

#2 Vienna
Bruce from CERT 38 (his first outreach event and he handled it like a pro!)
Andrew from CERT 15

#14 Burke
James from CERT 32
Bob and Grace from CERT 34

#17 Centreville
Terry, your volunteer PIO
Scott from CERT 39, the south county CERT basic class. (his first outreach event-GREAT job Scott!)

#24 Woodlawn-our CERT demo team!
Judy, our outreach coordinator from CERT 29
Patty from CERT 19
Jonathan from CERT 29
Michael from CERT 34

Thanks to all for your efforts!

your volunteer PIO

Fort Belvoir victims request

Fort Belvior Emergency Management is requesting victim volunteers for a drill they are holding on Thursday October 29 from 0900 to 1700. In the past, these drills have been awesome! For more information, please contact Michael Guditus at Fairfax Co. Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1011.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Exciting Actor Opportunity

On Saturday October 17, The Chester River Hospital in Chestertown, MD is supporting a Fire/EMS/Hospital mass casualty drill. The event starts at 7am and should be over at noon and involves a hazmat/decon operation. The decon operation will include hose downs, so swimwear under your clothing is recommended. Don't worry you'll be kept warm. Opportunities are available for those we don't want to get hosed down ( BUT WHY?). All ages are welcomed. The actors will be provided with a light breakfast, lunch and a free t-shirt. This is a must do!
Contact Kevin Mullins for more info at

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Amateur HAM Radio Classes: 8 Oct- 12 Nov

Hey CERT members interested in taking HAM radio classes?

Amateur radio classes will be held in the months of October and Novermber. The purpose of the classes is to help prepare for licensing and to give a basic knowledge of how amateur (ham) radio operators communicate. There is no cost for the class and anyone is welcome. All classes start at 7:30 pm.

Primary room fo the King St. Building (upstairs)
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
2810 King St
Alexandria, VA 22302

Date Topic
Thurs. Oct 8 ***************What is Ham radio; rules, responsibility and operations

Thurs. Oct 22 **************Radio, Electronics and Propagation

Wed. Oct. 28 ***************Operation and setup; communications methods and modes;
************** T7: Special operations

Thurs. Nov. 5 **************Safety and Emergency communications

Thurs. Nov. 12 **************ECOM Groups, Nets, Traditions and On air procedure

Class materials:
  • bring note taking materials. No reading is required but information will be given in class.
Please, email Josh Abraham, KG4RAY to let him know you will attend and that you are a CERT member,

Friday, October 2, 2009

Disasters Vision, Goal, Objectives and Outcomes

One section of the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review discusses Preparing for, Responding to, and Recovering from Disasters. Not surprisingly, CERT is part of the discussion.
The study groups have worked over the summer to distill the strategic approach to the mission areas and discern what the key goals, objectives and outcomes would be to support that approach. Please give us your input on the proposed content.
During this final phase of the dialogue you can:
  • Read and review the final goals, objectives and outcomes developed by DHS for each of the four mission areas.
  • Submit your feedback on the final products of each mission area.
  • Rate, comment and tag other’s responses to ensure the best ideas “rise to the top”.
To participate, please visit The dialogue closes on October 4th.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

House Committee Webcast: FEMA Deputy Admin. Timothy Manning Briefs on Community Preparedness- Oct 1 @ 10am ET

This came out from the national Citizen Corps. You can sign up for e-mail alerts at

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response is holding a hearing on “Preparedness: State of Citizen and Community Preparedness” on Thursday, October 1, 2009 @ 10am ET. This hearing will be available via a live webcast at the following website:

The purpose of this hearing is to assess the state of the nation’s citizen and community preparedness in light of FEMA’s August 2009 report entitled, “Personal Preparedness in America: Findings from the 2009 Citizen Corps National Survey”.


  • Timothy Manning, Deputy Administrator for National Preparedness, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • William “Bill” Jenkins Jr., Director, Homeland Security & Justice, Government Accountability Office (GAO)
  • Wendy Smith, Assistant City Manager, McAllen, Texas
  • Suzanne C. DeFrancis, Chief Public Affairs Officer, American Red Cross