Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Husband and Wife Volunteer as Emergency Preparedness Trainers

The following article was posted on Northrop Grumman Corporation's internal website and features two members of our CERT Family. Congratulations, Jack and Susy Ledgerwood.

About Jack Ledgerwood
Jack is a disaster preparedness specialist for Northrop Grumman and is working on a feasibility study with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and four subcontractors. They are testing public alert and warning systems that may eventually be utilized by DHS. Jack’s volunteer work in emergency response prompted him to change careers after 22 years of real-time software development work. His new desire to work in the emergency preparedness, training and exercise support field led to his employment with Northrop Grumman. Jack also volunteers with the American Red Cross and the Fairfax County Amateur Radio Emergency Services.

About Susy Ledgerwood
Susy is the security manager for both the Defense Travel System (DTS) and the GovTrip E-Gov Travel system. Both are end-to-end online travel systems that support all functions associated with government travel, from obtaining authorization to travel, to reservations and ticketing, and finally to vouchers and reimbursement when travel is complete. She helps ensure that the systems receive and maintain security accreditation from the government, and manages day-to-day security functions such as incident handling, vulnerability management and security documentation. Susy has been with the company for almost 31 years through various legacy organizations.

What is the name of the volunteer or charity organization that you are involved with?

The Fairfax County, Va., Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

What does your volunteer organization do and how would you describe it to a friend?

Jack: We prepare local citizens to take care of themselves and their neighbors in a large-scale disaster that may impact their area when local emergency response is overwhelmed. We emphasize preparedness and give them basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

Susy: The CERT program is designed around an "all hazards" approach, giving citizens basic skills that can be applied to a broad range of disaster situations. The program is sponsored nationally by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under Citizen Corps and is administered by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

What is the nature of the volunteer work that you do for the organization that you are involved with?

Jack: As an instructor with the CERT program, I have helped train more than 500 local citizens. I have also been activated in several operational roles. For the 2006 Huntington, Va., flood clean-up activities, I provided the safety briefing to more than 200 volunteers before they entered the disaster zone. For the Herndon (Va.) Festival and Celebrate Fairfax, I provided support to the emergency medical technicians stationed at the first aid tents. I also support personal preparedness through our various outreach events by manning booths at fairs and giving preparedness presentations.

For the national CERT program, I have one of the lead roles as a responder in its newly released training video, "CERT in Action." I also volunteered as an actor "victim" in training and preparation exercises for Virginia Task Force 1, a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team, U.S. Army 911th Battalion Search and Rescue, and the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

Susy: I am a volunteer instructor for the county’s CERT Level 2 classes, which help CERT team members build disaster response skills and the confidence to use them safely under stressful emergency situations. I also assisted my husband Jack in teaching the county’s first CERT Level 1 class, a lecture-oriented course based on the standard FEMA CERT curriculum. While the Level 2 classes must be taught at the Fire and Rescue Training Academy, the Level 1 class can be taught anywhere, allowing us to take the courses to local homeowners associations, churches and other community-based settings.

In addition to helping with teaching CERT classes, I have also served on the command staff for the final exercise associated with each class. These exercises typically involve more than 100 volunteer "victims" and approximately 50 CERT students. The fun part of my job is serving as the lead moulage artist for the exercises, creating simulated injuries to add to the realism of the exercise. Once our "victims" have been "injured" and the exercise starts, I typically shift roles and become an exercise evaluator, observing the students to assess the extent to which the students are able to demonstrate what they have been taught. We use this information to continually refine and improve the course to reinforce critical skills and address any observed weaknesses.

Finally, to help with the national CERT program, I had the opportunity to assist in the production of a new CERT training video, titled "CERT in Action."I have one of the lead roles and spent three days filming the video with FEMA. Shots from the video and a subsequent photo shoot are also featured in FEMA’s new online introductory CERT course. Although I don’t expect Hollywood to call any time soon, it was a very interesting experience, and I was happy to be able to participate.

What are you most proud of in the work you are doing for your organization?

Jack: I am most proud of the fact that our local citizens are prepared and willing to take positive control during an emergency situation.

Susy: I am most proud that I’ve been able to make an impact on the preparedness of our local citizens to respond to a local or regional disaster. If the students we train can keep themselves and families safe in an emergency situation, and then help others safely, we will have done our part to improve our preparedness for and response to a disaster.

What does "making a difference" mean to you and how do you make a difference every day in the volunteer work that you do?

Jack: Every day, our local community is a safer and better place to live because every day, our trained CERTs are working towards making their communities better prepared and a safer place to live. While we prepare for the worst and hope for the best, I have confidence in all of our CERT graduates that they will act safely if the time comes for them to apply their skills in the saving of lives. At the end of the day, it is all about neighbors helping neighbors.

Susy: Making a difference means leaving your mark on the world and leaving it better than you found it. It means being part of the solution, not the problem. To me, making a difference through CERT means knowing that our county’s citizens will be better prepared to deal with emergencies, disasters, and even everyday situations because, in part, of the work Jack and I have done to train our CERT volunteers.

I am also using my CERT training to make a difference at Northrop Grumman. I have volunteered to be a member of the Northrop Grumman Fair Lakes (Va.) building emergency response team (ERT). The ERT assists with building evacuation in case of a fire or other emergency.

Find Out More About CERT

Jack and Susy are actors in a newly released training video produced by the national CERT program. To view the video, go to Susy acts the part of "Barbara" and Jack plays the part of "Bob." Susy is also featured in still photographs throughout their new training curriculum.

Additional information about the Fairfax County CERT program can be found at and

Information about the national CERT program can be found at

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hurricane Preparedness Week Begins

News Highlights:
Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 23-29.
Virginia sales tax holiday, May 25-31.
Hurricane season starts June 1.
Submit emergency preparedness pictures online.

Time to prepare for hurricane season, it starts June 1.

The National Hurricane Center will observe Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 23-29. More information and resources are online.

Save money during Virginia’s hurricane sales tax holiday, May 25-31. Stock up on items during hurricane and flooding season, and add items to the family emergency supply kit. Many everyday items such as batteries, bottled water, duct tape and first-aid kits – as well as portable generators and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios – will be exempt from state sales tax.

For the complete release, visit

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Virginia’s Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday - May 25-31

Hurricane season is right around the corner. It's time to stock up on supplies such as batteries, generators, bottled water, radios and more between May 25 - 31. Thanks to Virginia's Sales Tax holiday, you won't pay sales tax that cost up to $60 (or for generators for less than $1000).

More details including a list of products covered by the sales tax holiday is available at Virginia Department of Taxation.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Celebrate Fairfax - Pre-planning CERT Support

Fairfax County CERT will have a large support role during Celebrate Fairfax (June 11, 12 & 13) at the Fairfax County Government Center.

In addition to having a (new!)CERT Outreach display and information booth, we have been asked to perform demonstrations of CERT capabilities (similar to and expanding on what was done at the Home and Garden Show in February). CERT will also be supporting the FXFR operation of the Lost Children/Parent stations with patrols and sub-stations.

The planning for this event is going to apply the Incident Command System, so we have a CERT Event IC (Gert Thompson) and also designated individual on-site IC and Deputy IC for CERT support each day of the event. The CERT Display, CERT Demo and Lost Children operations will each be managed by a CERT Sector Leader (number of CERT team members for each is yet to be determined).

We are now asking you to consider volunteering for this event, any of the days and opening times, and letting us now ahead of time so coordination can continue. If you are interested in participating in the Demonstration (show and practice your skills!) contact James [] for additional information.

For those of you who are active CERT members, this will count as recertification credit. This is a great introductory event for our new CERT Basic and CERT 2s to see and participate in all the aspects of Fairfax County CERT in community support roles.

An advance CERT Event Incident Briefing (ICS-201 formatted announcement) will be sent (by e-mail)to all those that have volunteered the week before the event. This will provide all the details and information you will need to prepare yourself.

CERT Event - Fair Oaks 5k Ambulance Chase (May 29th)

Another great opportunity for CERT in an operational role!
This is the second annual Fair Oaks Volunteer Fire Company Race and we have been asked to again support with CERT providing assistance in setting up the course (County Government Center area) and manning safety checkpoints along the route.

We will need at least 10 (ten) CERTs to participate for about 4 hours.
Saturday May 29 - check-in at 7:00 am at the Government Center 1. Incident briefing and safety instructions
2. Assist FD in course set-up and post CERTs at runner safety checkpoints
3. Observe and encourage runners (EMS Bike Team follows runners)
4. Help take down cone course and return to starting point (accountability)
5. Debrief (about 11:00am)

We will have LIME YELLOW Fairfax County CERT vests for the safety checkpoint CERTs to wear during the event. Bring a water bottle or any other personal equipment you think you will need. Bring your FRS radio (we will use these for intra-team coordination between safety checkpoints).

Last year we received a lot of kudos from the runners and the event staff for our volunteer participation. Traffic is very light at the time of the event, so 'traffic control' is done by Fairfax County Police at the major intersections - we will be responsible for the safety of the runners at major driveways, route changes and lane crossovers along the route. We have a VERY IMPORTANT ROLE!

Event CERT IC: James Sobecke

Reply by e-mail directly if you can volunteer some of your valuable time to support this event. For those of you who are active CERT members, this will count as recertification credit.

ViVa Vienna - CERT Support Event (Memorial Day Weekend)

Fairfax County CERT has been requested to support the First Aid Station operations at the upcoming ViVa Vienna Festival, May 29, 30 & 31st. This is an 'operational' event that will require several CERT Teams to assist the Vienna Fire Company with their First Aid Station and other support throughout the 3-day event. This is an excellent opportunity for our new CERTs to get involved with team operations and community emergency response. For those of you who are active CERT members, this will count as recertification credit.

Contact: Charles Monts (CERT-IC for this event) [] if you can provide some of your valuable time to supporting this event.

Event web site:

All the event details and requirements will be provided (by separate e-mail to those that volunteer) in a CERT Event/Incident Briefing (ICS formatted)announcement next week.

For additional information regarding this or any other upcoming CERT Event contact the Outreach Coordinator and Event Planner at

Monday, May 10, 2010


The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a system of training citizens to respond to large scale emergencies within their own neighborhood when the resources of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue system have been overwhelmed. These citizens are trained in the absence of a fire department response to mobilize and organize a rescue team for their community.

We are in need of people to play the role of "victims" for this drill. 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. You must wear long pants and closed end shoes, due to the location, we can not make exceptions to this rule. 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 lunch afterwards

You need to arrive at the Lorton Prison Complex by 7:00 am---exact location will be emailed to those who register. The drill should be completed by NOON. We'll need you to participate for the entire time. However, if you need to leave early due to an emergency, just let a facilitator know so we can account for you. Due to limited parking, it is requested that you carpool as much as possible.
The schedule usually goes something like this:

7:00 am - Arrive and park. 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. You'll start in the makeup process. While this doesn't take much time, there is a wait to get through. The lead instructor will give you a brief presentation on safety issues, what to expect, and what CERT is all about! This is a great time to sign up for a class!

8:30am – 8:45 am - You'll be escorted to the area that you'll be "trapped" or laying.

9:00pm - The Drill begins. The rescuers will search, sort the victims by severity, extricate those that are trapped, and transport all victims to a treatment area.

NOON – Lunch, debrief, "thank-you" from the students and Victim checkout.
We prefer adults, but will gladly accept minors 15 years and older with signed parental consent (attached) with a full understanding of what's involved. At checkout, those that would like them can receive a certificate signifying 6.5 hours of community service provided. Please give your name, phone number and E-mail address to the person who provided you with this request. Bring the attached form to the exercise.

REQUIREMENTS: You must wear long pants and closed end shoes---no exceptions here! Also bring a water bottle for the exercise and a folding chair for lunch (put your name on your chair). Do not bring iPods, phones or any electrics that may get wet or damaged.

This training is a very comprehensive class providing "real world" hands-on skill training in the above areas. Unlike traditional classroom training or task-focused practicals, Fairfax County CERT training provides a full disaster simulation every class! Our students receive practice in fitting all of their skills together and honing them under the stress that only our realistic training scenarios can provide. Our unique 32-hour curriculum includes easy remember mnemonics and simple to use and implement processes that provide our graduates with superior tools, judgment, and skills to truly make a difference in a disaster. Our instructors are experts in the fields of emergency response, terrorism, building collapse, command and control and more. Our instructors have been around the world responding to large-scale disasters.
With the full support of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, our CERT classes are conducted at our large and modern Fire and Rescue Academy. Here our training props include buildings, high rises, apartments, collapsed structures, vehicles, live fires, hazardous materials and more.

At the end of this training is a "big" final exercise in which they will have to respond to a "disaster" (This is where you come in). This disaster will encompass approximately four square blocks of area with multiple hazards within. These citizens will have to locate, extricate, treat, and evacuate the victims found within this disaster zone.

Contact Kevin at to sign up!

Herndon Festival

The Herndon Festival is from Thursday 3 June until Sunday 6 June. CERT members have been asked to participate to assist with the duties of the other emergency personnel. This event allows the opportunity of working closely with other EMS personnel and with the general public.

Shifts of a maximum of 4 hours have been created in order to provide coverage when needed. Traditionally, Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon have been the busiest and therefore additional coverage may be needed.

The shifts are as follows:
Thursday 6 to 10
Friday 5 to 8, 8 to 11
Saturday 10 to 3, 3 to 7, 7 to 11
Sunday 11 to 3, 3 to 6

If you are interested, please send an email with your name and the shift that you prefer to and place in the subject line Herndon Festival. More information will also be provided.

For CERT members not attending the Final Exercise at the Lorton Prison, please consider volunteering for this event. For newly graduated members, please consider participating on Sunday!
Thank you!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

RE: Need Volunteers for the next CERT Outreach Event – Asian Fair, May 8th and 9th

I have not received any response to my request for volunteers for the Asian Fair next Saturday and Sunday (May 8th & 9th). I will be able to take care of seting up the booth/display, but I have prior commitments both days and won't be in attendance during the core of the operating hours.

We need to have two-member CERT team presence from 10 am to 7pm Saturday, and 11am to 7pm Sunday - in 4 hour shifts, if possible.

Yes, I know Mother's Day is Sunday the 9th, and the reason I have family obligations that day.

Out of the 240 or so currently 'active' in the CERT program we should have some that can help us do outreach events. We are trying to make them more interesting by incorporating 'skill demonstrations' and adding more visual appeal to the display. We welcome your comments and assistance in that regard. CERT is not there just to train you, but to make others aware of the Program and the importance of personal readiness and emergency preparedness.

Any assistance would be gratefully appreciated.