Thursday, January 28, 2010

VA TF 1 is home!

This was the return ceremony for Virginia Task force 1 this afternoon at Dulles airport. Welcome home folks!

Rumor Has It ...

Derek wanted to let everyone know that Steve may be at Coastal Flats near the Academy later this evening in case you want to stop in and say "hi." You can always remind him you saw his picture while he was working in Haiti...


Virginia Task Force 1 to Return Thursday from Haiti

News Highlights:
  • VATF-1 is expected to land at Dulles International Airport Thursday, Jan. 28, at 4 p.m.
  • The public who wish to greet the team may begin arriving approximately 30 minutes prior to landing and follow signage marked "Fairfax USAR Haiti Event."
  • Dress warmly; afternoon temperatures are expected in the upper 40s. The team will go through customs on board; expect a wait of approximately 15-20 minutes after landing for the team to deplane. This arrival area is outside and restroom facilities are not available.
  • Free event parking is located at the corner of Rudder Road and Airport Drive, across from the cell phone waiting area.

Virginia Task Force 1(VATF-1), Fairfax County's urban search and rescue team, will return to Fairfax County on Thursday, Jan. 28. The team was activated by the United States Agency for International Development(USAID), Tuesday evening, Jan. 12, to the earthquake near Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Approximately 120 team members will arrive at Dulles International Airport tomorrow afternoon and are expected to land at approximately 4 p.m. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and other board members and elected officials will greet the team on their arrival.

The public is welcome to attend this homecoming of VATF-1 and may bring welcome signs or banners, as well as personal cameras to document the arrival.

Persons attending the event may park for free in the event parking area across from the entrance to the cell phone waiting lot, located at the corner of Rudder Road and Airport Drive. Message signs will direct those attending and will be marked "Fairfax USAR Haiti Event." After parking, residents will enter through Gate 116, located along the west end of the parking lot to the cargo 6 ramp where the plane will park upon arrival.

For more information about the homecoming, call the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3187.

Note: USAID pays for all costs and expenses incurred by VATF-1 when team members are activated or participate in training. All training, training equipment, supplies, and personnel costs of VATF-1 are paid for by the federal government on a regular basis. Additionally, when firefighters and members are deployed, there is no loss in emergency response or service to Fairfax County residents, as minimum staffing for all front-line apparatus is continuous in all fire and rescue stations.

If you have any difficulty viewing this message or want to view the map that was attached to the original press release, please visit the Fairfax County Government Site.

Monday, January 25, 2010

We need dead people!!!

Got your attention?? Our friends at the Fairfax County Police Department are looking for 15 volunteers for a Murder / Suicide scenario at the Criminal Justice Academy. This is a very easy assignment, just play dead. Actors must be 18 or over. The event is held on Friday February 5, 0700 to 1530. INTERESTED? Email for more details. I need to hear from you by Saturday 1/30.

CERT Help needed at Capital Home & Garden Show February 25-28th

Hi folks!
Fairfax County CERT has been given a unique opportunity-placing a CERT display and doing demonstration drills at the Capital Home & Garden Show running February 25-28th at the Dulles Expo Center.

This very large, high profile event is going into its 14th year & takes place in two halls. The Expo center South hall is primarily Outdoor & Leisure products & services and the North hall is primarily interior products & services. We see an average of 35,000 people over the course of the 3 ½ days.

The special attractions include:

· John Gidding of HGTV – from the hit show “Designed to Sell”

· Dream Gardens built by the Area’s BEST landscapers

· WETA String Quartet

· Hybrid Giveaway Car Contest

· Room and Landscape Makeover Prizes

· Local Media Coverage – print, online, TV, and radio

Show Dates & Times

Thursday, February 25

5:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Friday, February 26

10:00 am - 9:00 pm

Saturday,February 27

10:00 am - 9:00 pm

Sunday, February 28

10:00 am - 6:00 pm

We are going to need LOTS of CERT help on this one. We need CERT help with the demonstrations and to help with the display. This is an event widely covered by local and regional media. With the recent earthquake in Haiti this would be an ideal event to help keep family emergency preparedness in the minds of the population.

We are looking for CERT help for all hours, all days of this event; this event is open to CERT Basic and CERT 2 graduates.If you are interested in helping, please email me at (and CC judy, our outreach coordinator at with your name, CERT class number; what day/days you can work and a good phone number.

This will be a great chance to promote CERT and preparedness to people all over the region. Come and be a part of it!

your volunteer PIO

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Would you like to send an email to Steve,Paul and John in Haiti? Here's how......

Hi folks,
It is now possible to send email messages to Steve and other folks close to our CERT program while they are on SAR operations in Haiti.Would you like to say Hi? Wish them well and tell them what an awesome job they are doing? Here is how to do it.

While they are in Haiti email can be sent to and it will be printed and given to the appropriate team member.Please remember, they CANNOT reply. These emails will be printed out and given to them.

They have been on the ground for a week now; I know there is a LOT of interest in the VA TF-1 search and rescue operation. We are all very proud of their efforts. Drop them a line and tell them! I'm sure they would like to hear from us.
Derek, THANKS!! for providing this information.

your volunteer PIO

It is now possible to send an email to Steve Willey,Paul Bertovich (remember Paul has helped on most of our final exercises). Also John Morrison is there and he has helped with some final exercises too....
While they are in Haiti email can be sent to and it will be printed and given to the appropriate team member. No replies are possible however.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An update on VATF-1 operations in Haiti

Hi folks,
Here is an update on VA task force one SAR operations in Haiti from Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County board of supervisors. Great job Steve and all VATF-1 team members! Come home safe and soon....
your volunteer PIO

I wanted to share with you the most current update on our Fairfax County's Urban Search & Rescue's (USAR) efforts in Haiti. Since my e-bulletin last week, I have heard from many of you about how proud you are of our Fairfax County Fire & Rescue personnel. I have made sure our men and women who are in Haiti know of your expressions of pride and appreciation.

As I mentioned in my last Byline article on this subject, when our USAR team is activated, expenses are paid for by USAID, and not county tax dollars. Training, equipment, and personnel costs of Virginia Task Force 1 are paid for by the federal government on a regular basis. The County benefits by having personnel trained in search and rescue operations as a result of our relationship with USAID and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA). Additionally, when personnel are deployed, there is no loss in service to Fairfax County residents as minimum staffing continues around-the-clock for all fire stations and for all fire and medical units. The training and expertise that is gained by partnering with the federal government in times of local, regional, national, and international disasters and emergencies enhances and improves the skills of our firefighters and paramedics. Those skills are passed on to the residents of Fairfax County and surrounding jurisdictions on a daily basis, making Fairfax County a safer and better place to live and work.

As of January 20th, our VA-TF1 assigned to the earthquake in Haiti is continuing their efforts. They are safe and their morale is high. Fairfax County has a total of 117 team members plus another four on support missions in Haiti. The following is information from the USAR team's report this morning:

Number of rescues to date for the team is sixteen. The last rescue was completed last night when the team assisted French and Turkish teams in the rescue of a 25 year old female.

* To date, international Search and Rescue teams have rescued 122 individuals. U.S. Search and Rescue teams have rescued 43 of the 122.

* The team was awakened this morning at 0609 hours by a 6.1 magnitude aftershock - all team members were in their Base of Operations on the embassy grounds at the time and all are well.

* Tasks for today include deployment of Recon and Rescue assets to the new epicenter site - this assignment may prove to be lengthy due to the distance from the Base of Operations and extremely heavy traffic. The team will also be sending personnel back to the Hotel Montana to assist with delayering operations and the recovery of human remains.

* Poor satellite telephone reception continues to be an issue;however, hand-held radios are working very well

* Restock of supplies continues to be an issue. The team has restocked on water and MRE's. Bottled water is being reserved for crews working in the field and personnel in the Base of Operations are refilling empty bottles with water that is filtered on the embassy grounds.

* Team members are all physically, mentally and medically in good health with the exception of a few insect bites.

* Team members remain motivated from the continued success of the mission and continue to work extremely hard.

* Demobilization plans are being developed but no timeline for demobilization has been established.

The White House's website has information on how you can contribute to the relief effort and get information about any friends and family in Haiti:


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Survival Kit Drive at Embassy of Haiti

Hi all ... I picked this up from Volunteer Fairfax. It's going on RIGHT NOW at the Haitian Embassy in D.C. I know many of you are looking for tangible ways to support Haiti -- here is one option if you can get there before 4pm today.
From the Embassy of Haiti's Web Site

From the National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians (NOAH)


NOAH will be conducting a Survival Kit Drive THIS Sunday, January 17, 2010 from 11am - 4pm at the Embassy of the Republic of Haiti in Washington D.C. located at 2311 Massachusetts Avenue NW.

In appreciation of your assistance light refreshments will be available. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact (718.755.0119) or (202.904.9070).

Below are a list of items needed immediately. Many can be found at your local dollar store or even the One Spot in your local Target. Please spread the word to all because a MAJOR group effort is needed to get Haiti through this. I appreciate and thank you in advance for all your prayers, help and support.

Baby formula (dry/powder)
Baby wipes
Baby bottles
Baby clothes
Toiletries (shampoo, soap, toothpaste)
Hand sanitizer
First aid kits
Over the counter medicines
Mosquito repellent
Flip flops
Lightweight jackets
Non perishable food that’s not in cans (seal-paks of tuna or sardines, for example)


Friday, January 15, 2010

One of our Own in Haiti.........

The article below and the picture appeared on the New Jersey Star Ledger website this afternoon. (thanks to CERT trainer Jack for the link).The link is below.

Yes, that man in the stars and stripes headwrap is our very own CERT instructor Steve Willey. Steve is a structural engineer with Virginia Task force one.

Steve was deployed earlier this week with the rest of VA TF 1 to assist in the Haiti SAR response. There are many VA TF1 members currently on the ground assisting in rescuing the thousands of trapped people in the Port au Prince area.
We wish Steve a safe and productive deployment with VATF-1; and a speedy return home when the job is done.
your volunteer PIO

Haiti Earthquake

Added by Donna Gialanella/The Star-Ledger on January 15, 2010 at 3:47 PM

A man identified as a U.S.citizen is rescued by the Fairfax, Va. County Fire and Rescue team from the rubble of the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, Friday, Jan. 15, 2010. The hotel collapsed during the powerful earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday. Rescue workers said both his legs had to be amputated to free extract him. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Press release from the website.

VATF1 Deploys to Haiti January 13, 2010 New

Virginia Task Force 1 (VATF-1), Fairfax County's urban search and rescue team was activated by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Tuesday evening, January 12, 2010, to the earthquake near Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
The task force is composed of 72 personnel, 6 search and rescue canines, search and technical rescue personnel, physicians, paramedics, structural engineers, other support personnel, and approximately 48 tons of rescue equipment and supplies. The team is self-sustaining for approximately 14 days.
The task force left from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department’s Academy at 8:15 a.m., January 13, 2010. The task force deployed to the Haitian town of Petionville, near the capital of Port-au-Prince for a school collapse in November of 2008.
The task force has also deployed nationally to the Oklahoma City Bombing, The Pentagon, Hurricanes Katrina and Isabel. Additionally, they have deployed internationally to the bombing in Kenya, earthquakes in Turkey, Taiwan, and Iran.
Additionally, as a part of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, the task force maintains constant operational readiness, and is a local resource for residents of Fairfax County.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haitian Response

Moments after Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Haiti, our Fairfax County CERT members started inquiring how they could be of assistance. Shortly thereafter, Virginia Task Force 1 (VATF-1) the urban search and rescue team, was activated and is on the ground helping the people of Haiti now. First, we can keep in our thoughts, that VATF-1's mission is successful and safe. Second, we can help support one of the many agency's that specialize in disaster relief. The needs are great for basic food, water, shelter and medical supplies. One such organization that is already a presence in Haiti is the American Red Cross. To help those efforts, consider a donation using the link provided below. Know that what you do makes a difference.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snowstorm CERT volunteers

FYI from a Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) Public Affairs Office news release:

CERT volunteers help neighbors in Arlington
During the recent snowstorm, approximately 40 Arlington County Community Emergency Response Team volunteers answered requests from the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management to help clear snow from nearly 100 fire hydrants, bus stops and storm drains. In addition, Arlington CERT Volunteer Citizen Liaison Cynthia Kellams wrote an editorial published online in the Sun Gazette:

The editorial urges residents to be prepared to support themselves for at least three days after an emergency by collecting emergency supplies, having a plan in place to evacuate and taking a CERT class.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chinese New Year 2010 Festival

As promised, here is another event to support your CERT Outreach. We have been asked to set up our Booth at this the 3rd Annual CHINESE NEW YEAR 2010 FESTIVAL!!!

This event has programs like: Live Performances, Great Asian Food, Chinese New Year Parade, Door Prizes, Kids Activities, Asian Culture Exposure and more.

Why not spend a couple of hours at the cert booth talking up CERT?This is an indoor event at Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Rd. in Falls Church. We will be there on Saturday Feburary 13 from 10:00am to 7:oopm, and Sunday Feburary 14 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

E-mail Judy and Terry as to which day and times you would like to join them. I'll be handing out kisses (chocolate ones of course) at the booth. This sounds like a fun event for all ages, so come join us!!!

your outreach coordinator

Frostival 2010 with a CERT Twist

How can you get the CERT message across to 2 to 12 year olds without scaring them for life?
Make it a GAME.

Our Outreach Team came up with a fun game that was informative as well as giving the player a prize. Who doesn't like getting a prize!!! So, the kids got to stick their hand in a green box filled with white plastic peanuts and pull out a piece of paper with a question. If the answer was given correctly (with help from mom or dad, or the ever helpful CERT booth babes or dudes) a nifty pen light or CERT pen was given. This game drew a crowd!!

We also had a quieter coloring page activity. 275 Preparedness Activity books were handed out as well. And we got a full page of parental sign ups for CERT classes. Those of you CERTs that were nursing a hangover; you missed a great event. We had a booth location near the stage. We got to see plenty of talent, from ballet to tap, rap to obo and belly dancers. Patty from CERT 19, Barbara from CERT 14, and your outreach team Kevin, Terry and Judy all have a head start on their 2010 refresher requirements.
But, don't worry.CERT has the next great outreach event coming up in Feburary. See the next post!!

your outreach coordinator

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

National Resource Center on Advancing Emergency Preparedness for Culturally Diverse Communities

I was looking through this web site this morning and it's full of interesting resources. Fairfax County is very diverse (at Pine Spring Elementary School where my children attend, there are 17 different languages spoken in the home) and this site has a number of translated materials from different organizations and jurisdictions. They also have training and education materials and you can sign up for email bulletins.

Find out more at

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 Welcomes your CERT Planning Committee

The New Year brings an exciting change to your CERT program. A CERT Planning Committee (CERTPC) has been formed with members of our own CERT community. The members are, Kevin M. #20, Chairman; Steve R. #14, C0-Chair; Bob G. #22, Secretary; Lani Y. #4 and Faith M. #27. The Volunteer Liasion's office provides support from the Fire & Rescue Department. The five members of the committee represent a cross section of motivated CERTs who have been charged with directing the future of the Fairfax County CERT program. The committee is currently looking at expanding membership involvement, training, recognition programs and outreach events. We are pleased to announce that a the first Bridge class (CERTs from level 1 to 2) will begin in late February and we will have a graduation/recognition ceremony in late March. We will be asking for many volunteers to assist with our de-centralization program along with new positions. The committee meets monthly and wants your input. An email link should be up shortly and you are encouraged to email us with your idea's.

Our Mission Statement:
The Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team Planning Committee is created to develop an organizational structure and awareness of the program throughout the County. To develop training opportunities with the goal to expand, involve, recognize, retain and utilize its active membership. To prepare and assist citizens to do the most good for the most people in emergency situations effectively and efficiently without endangering themselves.

Kevin M., Chairman

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

As the entire eastern seaboard seems to be locked into a severe cold patch, it's a good reminder to review your house and car to make sure you are prepared for winter storms and extreme cold. has some resources for Winter Weather to review as a good refresher to be prepared. Get a kit. Make a plan. Stay informed.