Thursday, December 22, 2011

Remember, you never know what you'll find...

Remember during the Hazards class I talked about you never know what you'll find in someone else's house? Remember the part about people possibly having war relics stashed away? Well, I bring you news out of York, Maine:

YORK, Maine — While cleaning out the house of a World War II veteran, a local resident found a souvenir from conflict: A Japanese hand grenade.

Not knowing whether the grenade was live or dangerous, the resident called police at about 2 p.m. Saturday. He was driving in his car with the grenade, and police advised him to pull over immediately, according to the police report.

York notified the Maine State Bomb Squad and a local officer and Sgt. Chris Harriman from the bomb squad met the resident in an open area behind the Meadowbrook Plaza on Route 1.
Harriman took the grenade back to the squad's headquarters in Gray, where experts didn't determine whether it was live or not, he said. They took no chances, detonating the grenade with explosives.

What's unusual about the incident, according to Harriman, is that it happens all the time.
"World War II memorabilia, we get them all the time," he said Wednesday. "We get close to 50 (calls) a year. Everything: Grenades, mortars, bomb fuses, rockets..."

Most are found by family members as they sort through the belongings of a loved one who served during World War II, Harriman said. In most instances, the family had no idea that a grenade or other potentially explosive souvenir was sitting in an attic, cellar, garage or closet for decades.


See, I don't just make all this stuff up. Most of it, maybe, but not all of it.


Monday, December 19, 2011

IC needed for the rescheduled CERT/Boy Scout Camporee March 24th-25th, 2012

Hi folks,

You may remember a few months ago that Fairfax County CERT was tasked to manage an emergency preparedness themed Boy Scout camporee. The event was to take place at the county fire academy; but was cancelled due to some technical difficulties.

The camporee has been rescheduled-the new dates for the camporee are Saturday March 24th and Sunday March 25th, 2012. The camporee will take place at the Fairfax County fire academy.

This camporee will involve up to 300 Boy Scouts and adult scout leaders. We are tasked to teach their emergency preparedness merit badge to them. In addition, the goal is to also train the Boy Scouts to Teen CERT level qualifications. This is a tall order folks-and we will need at least 35 to 40 CERT members to work this event and make it a rousing success.

In order to lead this event, we need an IC for it. This CERT will be in charge of the operations at the camporee. Working closely with CERT 12's Charles Monts (who organized and IC'ed the last camporee in 2007) the IC will be responsible for getting their teams together; organizing the training stations, ensuring safety and a myriad of other duties.

The IC for this event will put in some hours. Planning hours; learning hours, execution hours.... I won't lie to you-it's a challenge. A challenge in planning, executing and leading this event. Anytime you put 300 kids in one space for any period of time, it's a challenge! But, it is also a perfect opportunity for someone interested in being given a plan for a large, high profile event and executing it to a very high standard.

The ideal IC would be-a CERT 2 or 3 graduate current on their refresher classes status. A CERT that's wanting to lead a large, important "real deal" type event. Someone willing to put in the hours to make it happen. Someone wanting to truly make a difference-not only to the CERT's you lead; but helping 300 kids grasp the principles of disaster preparedness and teaching them CERT techniques as well. Just think-the emergency preparedness concepts taught at the camporee could stay with these teens for a lifetime. That's what I call important, folks..........

Are you up to this task? Are you wanting a challenge? If you are, we're looking for YOU. Please contact me at with your name, email address and CERT class number.


The Fairfax County CERT 4 wheel drive registry

The 4 wheel drive registry started a few weeks ago has really been popular-thanks to all of those CERTs who have already signed up. The response has been very good to this request; CERT members from all over the county have already signed up.

The 4 wheel drive registry has been such a success that we wanted to repost the request. Here is the duty-
Using your personal 4 wheel drive vehicles, drivers on the CERT 4 wheel drive registry will help get doctors and nurses to hospitals, patients to dialysis treatment, etc. during snow events. This is a volunteer duty, and there are requirements to meet. The requirements are below:

1. Be a Fairfax County CERT-this is open to CERT basic, CERT 2 and CERT 3 graduates.
2. Have a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
3. Your vehicle must be properly registered and insured to operate on Virginia roads.
4. A desire to help.....
5.Your name.
6.Your CERT class number.
7. Your contact info-home/ cell number, email address and home address (for GIS mapping and dispatching purposes)
8. How many passengers can your 4x4 hold (each passenger in your vehicle must have a seatbelt)

When the next snowstorm comes up, the drivers listed on the registry would be activated- county entities would tell the drivers where the passengers are located. The CERT member picks up the passengers and drives them to (or from) the hospital or treatment center or location as the situation dictates.
Contact me, Judy Howell at or if you wish to be included in the CERT 4 wheel drive registry.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Team Lead Applications due Monday, December 19th

Within the past two weeks, you should have received an email assigning you to one of six teams within the county. (Contact Susy at If you haven’t) We are actively looking for leaders for each of these teams. We have received some interest, but we still need your help. Contact Jack at to apply or for more information about the positions. Please apply by the 19th or at least let us know that you are planning on applying and when we can receive your application.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, please send your roster updates to Susy at

We need your help to make our teams a success in 2012!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Teams and Leadership Opportunities!

This week, emails were sent out to the Fairfax County CERT membership to make folks aware of the establishment of six new geographically-based Fairfax County CERT teams (North, South, East, West, Central, and North Central) and to assign each CERT member to one of the teams six based on his/her home address on record. If you didn’t receive the email, please email Susy, CERT Teams Coordinator, at and she will send you a copy.

As we stand up the new teams, we’ll be looking for energetic and motivated individuals to lead each of them. A position description and application for the Team Lead positions was included with the email. If you are interested in taking a lead role in your local CERT team, please consider applying! Completed applications or questions should be sent to Jack, CERT Teams Section Chief, at Applications should be submitted by December 19, 2011.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This Ain't The Same CERT That Got Started In The 1980s

From Emergency Management Blogs // Disaster Academia by Valerie Lucus-McEwen
(November 24, 2011)

Most of us have been involved in – or at least are familiar with – CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams). The 59th Annual IAEM Conference and EMEX 2011 in Las Vegas last week gave us an opportunity to hear Rachel Jacky, Director of the FEMA Citizen Corps CERT Program, talk about how the program has evolved into something much different than many of us remember.

"This ain't the same CERT that got started in the 1980's", she said. "It has expanded and grown while keeping it's original purpose."

What hasn’t changed is the fundamental concept of CERT (the first responders to any incident are the people who are already there) or it’s basic rationale (training helps keep them safe). The core skills that CERT teaches hasn’t changed, although they have been updated and overhauled.

The most important thing that hasn’t changed is the ownership. CERT’s are still primarily owned on a local basis. “FEMA can provide a lot,” Jacky said. “They can’t know what is the smartest and best way to involve volunteer responders in a community’s best interests.”

What has changed is that CERT has been around long enough to have a solid track record. This gives it the freedom to adapt itself, so it is more valuable to an ever-changing emergency management program.

Much of that is because there is now an agency (FEMA’s Citizen Corps) to keep records. Citizen Corps is the umbrella for other groups (like the MRC – Medical Reserve Corps), and is affiliated with others (the VFW, ARRL, CAP, and – my personal favorite – Girl Scouts), but CERT can certainly be considered one of the more resilient.

The CERT web page is impressive. There are links to find CERT’s in your community, stories of CERT’s in actions, training and video materials, and – most impressive – a place to register your local CERT so it doesn’t get lost or forgotten.

Jacky said there are almost 1850 local CERT programs registered, and in 2010, there were almost 430,000 individuals trained who provided 1.3 million volunteer hours.

“More impressive than numbers, and a terrific development in the life of CERT,” she said, “is its growing inclusiveness.” The majority of CERTS target their training for the general public, but there are also CERT groups targeted to faith-based organizations, businesses, teens, college/universities, special needs and military groups.

Recent statistics show that over 10% of the registered CERT teams have been deployed in actual emergencies over 10 times, but 30% have never responded. What are those groups doing? Some of them are new, but some of this is related to the expanding mission of CERT teams and how CERT teams are being every more consciously integrated into Emergency Management as a discipline.

In addition to the activities you might expect CERT’s perform (neighborhood checks, staffing shelters, sandbagging) they are also supporting emergency management by doing outreach for emergency preparedness, fire safety or public health. “Who better to deliver that kind of information?” Jacky said. “The best messenger for preparedness is a neighbor who is already prepared.”

The CERT program has some lofty goals for the next couple years. Continued growth, of course, but also an increased emphasis on training effective CERT trainers. There are two courses taught at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute: E428 Train the Trainer and E427 Program Manager

Jacky said another goal is to train CERT members for their expanded functions by developing training modules to expand their skills in areas like animal response, crowd management, leadership or communications.


Friday, November 25, 2011

HEADS UP!!! Role play for Exercise 28 December 2011

Volunteer victims are needed for an exercise at the Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale campus. The date is 28 December 2011. I know this is a month out but, with Christmas and News Years planning, I want ya’ll to have an opportunity to get in an event towards your yearly refresher, plus role play is FUN!!
It will be partially indoors and outdoors, depending on the weather .We will not put anybody in a dangerous situation. (Temperature wise) So, it being December, it will be participant dependent to watch the weather and dress appropriately. If it too cold or there is snow and it’s too dangerous to conduct the exercise we will cancel. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the drill, participants may not know the status of the drill, if weather is a problem, until they get to location. The exercise will be somewhere from 1300 - 1500. You should be able to leave shortly following the end of the exercise.
Role players need to be at the location to check in get their assignments, moulaged as needed and then placed at 10:00 - 10:30.
As always, bring something to sit/lay on and something to do, Kindle, etc. and probably a snack and water.
Contact Kevin, our victim/actor coordinator to be put on the list and to get the actor handout. The Assumption of Risk form will need to be filled out prior and brought with you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

VATF-1 Receives DHS “Concrete Buster” Tool (VATF-1 Provides Demonstration)

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department
4100 Chain Bridge Rd, Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Phone: 703-246-3801, TTY: 711 and Fax:703-385-1687
Duty PIO (Weekends/After-hours): 703-877-3702

News Release 11-84
Date: November 7, 2011

On Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at approximately 1 p.m., Virginia Task Force 1 will demonstrate and formally transfer a new Controlled Impact Rescue Tool (CIRT) from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The presentation and demonstration will take place at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Academy, 4600 West Ox Road, Fairfax.

CIRT is a new concrete buster that could mean the difference between life and death to those trapped under collapsed concrete caused by natural and manmade disasters.

In development since 2007, the 36-inch long, 100-pound tool is capable of breaching reinforced concrete and works up to four times faster than traditional methods which require drilling, chipping, or sawing. VATF-1 will receive two CIRT tools for evaluation, training, and use in actual emergency responses. Developed in partnership with Raytheon, the CIRT is now commercially available for federal and military agencies.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fry, or Fry Not

I am posting this a little early this year, but I figure many people are starting to plan their Thanksgiving menus now. If you have never seen it, this is the annual "be careful when frying a turkey" post! I want to make sure if you are planning to fry a turkey, you do so safely. Turkey Fryer fires are extremely dangerous and I want to see everyone enjoy their holiday, no have it end in tears.


Have you thought about how you might be cooking your Thanksgiving turkey? What the heck does this have to do with CERT, safety or anything other than a cooking class or something on the Food Network? Has Mike gone completely crazy? Has cooking with Emeril Lagasse gone to his head? Good questions all! Over the past few years there has been a growing trend of people frying their turkeys. I have to say, fried turkey sure do taste good, this is a fact. Unfortunately, if you are novice, or even have experience frying a turkey, it is a serious and dangerous prospect.

There are many reasons a deep fryer can be dangerous. Since using the typical pedestal type turkey fryer SHOULD NEVER BE DONE INDOORS (this includes a garage or barn, even if is not entirely closed in), making sure you have the space and equipment to do this outdoors is important. Also bear in mind, the weather; if it is windy, raining or snowing, this could affect your fryer. In order to fry your turkey you will need to get the oil in the fryer up to at least 350 degrees ...350 degrees, which, if you did not know, IS REALLY HOT!

Working with an unstable product such as blazing hot oil over an open flame is dangerous, even if you know what you are doing. Other safety issues include:

* If the burner is not on level ground, the units can easily tip over, spilling hot oil (3-5 gallons of hot oil at 350 degrees!!!) onto the burner and creating a LARGE, FAST fire.

* If the pot is overfilled with oil, the oil may spill over when the turkey is lowered into the pot. Oil will hit the flames on the burner and engulf the burner with fire. There are ways to measure out the right amount of oil, which is imperative to ensure you do not have the pot overfilled.

* Water and hot oil do not go together. Partially frozen turkeys contain water of course, so if you lower a partially frozen turkey into a fryer, expect an extensive fire. Heaven help you if you place a frozen turkey in the fryer; to help defrost it....this will cause an explosion as the water expands in the hot (350 degrees ) oil. DON'T do it.

* The outdoor fryers have no thermostat controls, so they can overheat quickly and cause the oil to boil over the sides of the pot before you can react.

* The pot and handles get EXTREMELY hot (remember, 350 degrees of boiling oil), posing severe burn hazards.

I am sure there is someone out there saying to themselves, "I won't let Mike yuck my yum, I am going to fry a turkey anyway". It won't be the first time someone did not listen to what I said. You still want to fry that turkey? Ok, fine. Please, remember these things as you go about frying. These are not guaranteed to stop a fire or keep you from getting burned, but they may help in mitigating a larger disaster (such as burning your house down):

* Never use a turkey fryer on a wooden deck or inside a garage, home, or within any structure.

* Place the fryer a safe distance away from any building ( if you place it in the grass, the grass should not be overly dry, nor overly wet. Also count on the grass dying and never growing back).

* Fryers should be used on a firm, flat surface to prevent them from tipping over. Try the middle of a parking lot....not the sloping driveway in front of your house next to your car.

* Once the pot is filled with the recommended amount of oil (probably peanut oil) and the burner is ignited, you should NEVER leave the fryer unattended. This also means do not cook if you are under the influence. Please, don't drink and fry.

* Keep pets inside and keep children at a safe distance. A safe distance being somewhere where they will never see the fryer, because once they do, they will want to get close.

* Use well-insulated gloves or oven mitts and wear safety glasses (I think I know where you might have a pair laying around) to guard against oil splatters.

* Do not wear loose clothing as these may ignite if you get too close to the flame or the oil, or both. If your clothes do catch on fire, remember, Stop, Drop and Roll!

*Turkeys must be thoroughly thawed. While very tasty, be very careful of injecting marinades into your turkey. The extra liquid in the bird may cause the oil to spill over.

*Keep a portable dry chemical fire extinguisher nearby. Never use a water type extinguisher to extinguish a grease or oil fire. Do not deploy the garden hose to assist with your turkey fryer fire, this will do MUCH, MUCH more harm than good.

* If your fryer does catch fire call 9-1-1 immediately!

Finally, remember the oil inside the pot will remain hot for hours after your turkey has been removed. DO NOT bring it indoors and again, keep children and pets away from the pot. For more information on some of the hazards of cooking fires (not just the turkey fryer fires), please visit the United States Fire Administration's website for a copy of: Behavioral Mitigation of Cooking Fires by going here:

For a short demo on a fryer fire, go here:

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, October 31, 2011

A message from a CERT IC worth reposting

I got this letter yesterday-it's from an IC for Saturday's exercise. It's worth reposting.


Hello Everybody,

The tremendous success of Saturdays exercise is a testament to the expert training provided by Steve Willey, Mike Forgy and Richard, I don't know your last name but it should be "Superman", in the "Carry" portion of our training Richard put me on his back and carried me across the class room, and I'm 6'7 250. These 3 guys are the "Grand Masters" of rescuing the masses.

This was my 1st time as an Incident Commander and I'm grateful that I was chosen to run operations in Delta building (5) Its a fact that a team will take on the persona of its leaders, and "Big Country Jackson" set the tone from the git go. He was cool, confident and believed in me and the IC for Hotel team whose name I can't remember, but I haven't forgotten your actions. I know why he was chosen to be an IC, I worked with him at the "Capital Shield" exercise and if you don't know him let me tell you he does everything well.

I take my hat off to Alex, Penny and Laura for doing the work of 10 people in Deltas medical area, we were short handed and couldn't provide them help until Jackson sent us reinforcements from Hotel team.
Once teams of 2 from Hotel began arriving they were immediately given 2-4 green tags to commandeer on extraction and transportation of victims to medical.

I also broke an existing Delta team in two and filled in the 2 teams with green tags.

The overall Logistics team can only be compared to "Radar" from M.A.S.H.....whatever I needed I got, including asking their assistance to help clear victims out of a room who were red tags so medical could expand operations into that room. Also those extra stretchers you got me enabled those reinforcements Jackson sent to do their job...bravo. Folks we had a lot of victims in Delta building 5, I was told there was at least double what Hotel had. Buy the end of the day Deltas medical area encompassed 4 rooms.

You stretcher carriers have the heart of a lion, it was cold, dark and the terrain was treacherous, but they went off into the darkness time and time again until everyone was brought back.

Andrew is who I chose to be the scribe for me at Delta IC. This guy is an "Accounting Ninja", he tracked CERT's flowing in and out of IC like it was Grand Central Station, he constantly checked and rechecked his stats with Whitney and Deltas medical accountants who were awesome. Spencer and the tall gentleman whom I'm sorry I forgot his name , but he is great.

Radios were beneficial for IC to speed up requests, transmissions were kept to a minimum.

I also want to commend Mike Hanlon for his performance throughout the course and on the final exercise, he is only 16 but was given permission to attend training if I sponsored him, he is as strong as a bull and his stretcher team carried more victims to medical than any other during Saturdays exercise.

These are all the CERT emails I have so whoever has the master list please forward this to every CERT whether they were there Saturday or not. We all benefit from sharing situations encountered in the field, what worked , what didn't etc...

This was a tough but rewarding day, there is something to be said about those who put themselves in harms way for total strangers, "He who gives himself to save another will certainly be saved" (Jesus Christ)...perhaps its best simply stated as "They are heroes"!

I invite you all to visit my website/blog Global Strategic Survival Solutions, and read "Your neighbors will be your first responders" along with this awesome training hopefully this will help you prepare and organize your community against disaster.

Thank you CERT veterans for donating your time to make us better, and thank you everybody for your friendship.

Your Friend

Eric "Kong" Bjerke

Friday, October 28, 2011

Final Exercise Inclement Weather policy-just in case.

The weather folks are predicting some interesting weather for the CERT 56/57 final exercise tomorrow. Just in case it's needed, following is the official CERT inclement weather policy, and some additional info from Steve Willey, our CERT lead instructor.

The official CERT inclement weather policy follows the Northern Virginia Community College status. if they are closed, we are closed.

Steve says,
That being said, there is no "policy" that is intended to replace common sense. If the weather seems iff'y then stay home.

You can quote me on this....

Thanks Steve!

CERT volunteer coordinator

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fairfax County CERT IDs now available to the CERT membership.

Fairfax County CERT ID cards are now available for our members. There is a specific process by which a CERT ID card is issued-please follow the instructions.

To be elgible for a Fairfax County CERT ID card, you must be an active CERT 2 or CERT 3 class graduate.
CERT ID cards will NOT be issued to CERT basic class graduates. (But CERT basic graduates who complete the CERT "bridge class" to obtain CERT 2 status ARE elgible. )
"Active" in this context means that you are up to date on your annual refresher classes
and actively participating in drills or in outreach events.

Remember, to stay current as a Fairfax County CERT member, you need to participate in at least one yearly CERT refresher; participate in three outreach events within one calendar year; or participate in events designated as counting for a yearly refresher class.

You must also submit to our Fire Dept. volunteer coordinator, Jeffrey Katz a copy of a background check, and an electronic passport sized photograph.

To obtain background check/criminal records search, you must follow the procedure below:
(No other sources, or a security clearance will be accepted)

You must appear in person at Central Records, 10600 Page Avenue, Fairfax, VA 22030. You can show up without appointment Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm . You will be required to provide two forms of identification. One must contain your photograph and date of birth. The following is a list of acceptable forms of identification:
· A valid driver’s license
· A social security card
· Birth certificate
· Passport
· Military Identification
· Medicare card
· State-issued identification card
· A green card
Is there a cost for obtaining a copy of my criminal record?
· A $10 fee is charged. The CERT is responsible for this fee.
· Payment in the form of cash, credit card, money order or check made payable to the County of Fairfax.

Once you have your background check results, these will need to be scanned and emailed to Jeffrey; along with a digital passport sized photograph of yourself. If you cannot scan and email the results electronically, you may mail these in. Please contact Jeffrey via email for the address to send the results.
The completed ID card will then be mailed to you.

This is the procedure-it's relatively quick and painless. If you have any questions, please contact Jeffrey at or Dana Powers at

CERT volunteer coordinator

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On November 9th FEMA, DHS and FCC will conduct the first national test

On November 9th FEMA, DHS and FCC will conduct the first national test
of the Nationwide Emergency Alert System test. This test will kick off
at 1:00 p.m. (CST). The test will be nationwide, running concurrently
across all time zones.

This system test is the first of its kind. It is designed to broadcast a
nationwide message to the American public. Nothing like it has been
conducted in the history of the country. There have been tests in the
past but none to all parts of the Nation at the same time. The test will
run concurrently on all radio and TV band and the message will run for
three minutes. Most messages in the past were anywhere from 30 seconds
to 1 minute.

There is great concern in local police and emergency management circles
about undue public anxiety over this test. The test message on TV might
not indicate that it is just a test. Fear is that the lack of an
explanation message might create panic. Please share this information
with your family and friends so they are aware of the test.

Below is additional information, along with two websites, that will
provide more information...

What will people hear and see during the Test?

During the test, listeners will hear a message indicating that "This is
a test." Although the EAS Test may resemble the periodic, monthly EAS
tests that most Americans are already familiar with, there will be some
differences in what viewers will see and hear. The audio message will be
the same for all EAS participants; however due to limitations in the
EAS, the video test message scroll may not be the same or indicate that
"this is a test." This is due to the use of the live EAN code - the same
code that would be used in an actual emergency. The text at the top of
the television screen may indicate that an "Emergency Alert Notification
has been issued."
This notification is used to disseminate a national alert and in this
case, the test. In addition, the background image that appears on video
screens during an alert may indicate that "this is a test," but in some
instances there might not be an image at all.

There are several limitations to the current EAS for individuals with
access and functional needs. FEMA and the FCC are committed to providing
organizations and the EAS community with information well in advance of
the Test. FEMA and the FCC will further engage the EAS community to
better understand the wide range of information and access needs in
preparation for the national EAS. IPAWS has been performing outreach to
access and functional needs organizations in several different forums,
including working groups and roundtables led by the FEMA Office of
Disability Integration and Coordination, with representation from
multiple FEMA program offices, other Department of Homeland Security
components, and other Federal Departments and Agencies.

Here are the official links from FCC, FEMA and DHS. This test of the Nationwide Emergency Alert System is official and will kick off at Wednesday, 9 November 2011 at 1400 ET

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Let's stay in touch!

Over the weekend each of the coordinators on your CERT steering committee got new email addresses. This is part of the revamp of communications in the Fairfax County CERT program; next on the list is a CERT website. (It's a work in process, and it's going slow but it IS coming. And it's being done by Roam Secure, the same people who send out those super useful CEAN text alerts.....) For your convenience, I've listed the new email addresses below.
Do you have an idea? Do you have a suggestion that might make our CERT program better? Hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Email us-if you don't know who to email it to, just shoot it to me-I'm Terry. We'll get your mail to the right person. Don't be a stranger, email us-it's your program too!

Terry, your CERT volunteer coordinator at

Mary, our CERT volunteer coordinator co-lead at

Susy, our CERT teams coordinator at

Lani, our logistics coordinator at

Steve R., our Operational event role coordinator at

Jack, our CERT teams section chief at

Judy, our volunteer PIO at

James, our outreach coordinator at

Kevin, our victim actors coordinator at

CERT volunteer coordinator

Train the Trainer course at Stafford VA, 5-6 November 2011-there are still some openings for the class.

Hi folks,

Would you like to learn how to become a CERT volunteer instructor? The next VDEM Train the Trainer course is on November 5th and 6th in Stafford, VA. There are still some open slots available for this hard to get class-so if your'e interested contact Jeffrey Katz, our FD volunteer coordinator at or me at for more info.

your CERT volunteer coordinator

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fairfax County Firefighter Dies

Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team is saddened to announce to its members the passing of Firefighter Hoarce 'Chris' Pendergrass, 49, this morning at FS41-Crosspointe. Firefighter Pendergrass is a 20+ year veteran with the Fire and Rescue Department. The cause of the Line of Duty Death has not been determined and is pending. As soon as arrangements are available, updated announcements will be made when formalized. The Fire and Rescue Department is a strong supporter of the CERT program and we will all have the Pendergrass family and the members of the FRD in our thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fairfax County CERT at Capitol Shield 2012-More Rock, Less Talk was the order of the day........

Hi folks,
On Tuesday October 18th and Wednesday October 19th, a number of your fellow Fairfax County CERT brothers and sisters participated in something wonderful.......
The "wonderful" was the Capitol Shield 2012 exercise, held at the old Lorton youth prison in Lorton, VA. The prison grounds were the scene of a massive disaster (exercise). A (simulated)hurricane hit taking out all of the power and all fuel storage areas in the area; leaving roads inaccesable and the population totally unruly. School shootings occured; a shooter was loose on the US Capitol grounds; and a local area hospital was (virtually) leveled in a giant bomb blast. Four more (simulated but dirty) bombs went off in areas around the DC region; and anthrax was (virtually) released. Professional response activities were completely overwhelmed..........Sounds like a disaster, right?
It was-so who was "called out" to assist?
Why, Fairfax County CERT of course! A number of your CERT brothers and sisters integrated into disaster response operations with a number of different federal, state and county agencies. We rescued upwards of 200 victims each day of the two days of the exercise-from ALL OVER the Lorton complex-we helped with getting patients to decontamination stations; the Navy deconned them and then we rushed them to medical. On Tuesday we and our Montgomery Co. CERT counterparts were the only coordinated medical response team for the Lorton field training exercise. We worked as both victims and responders on Tuesday.

On Wednesday we were purely rescuers-with rescue responsibility for the southern half of the Lorton complex. We integrated into military medical assets on site, and helped with loading the medevac helicopters and AMBuses taking wounded to DC area regional hospitals.

We had an AWESOME time, folks. So good the attendees are still talking about it. We worked side by side with units and agencies we had not worked with before-we helped in duties and functions that were new (and exciting!) to us. We had a BLAST folks; here are some of the highlights-

Mark D, our Tuesday "mental case Green"-who taught our CERT counterparts to the north some very "interesting" lessons in keeping an eye on your patients :) At one point he arranged the green victims in medical from shortest to tallest height-THAT was entertaining! And then taking over med ops and running it so efficiently that with each evolution-our other CERT counterparts began emulating our medical activities. They started wearing gloves, they started doing head to toe assessments in the medical area......

Kong-leaping like a gazelle to take care of his victims. All you saw was arms legs and duct tape.... This man was FAST......If there ever was a speed bandage competition Kong would win it!

All of us who moulaged victims at 530am in the dark using a car's headlights. (Because they were dropped off early-but we took care of it and got the job done.....) and our MD CERT counterparts who showed up (both days) at 0645, when the job was almost done. Good timing folks........

Scott, our on site IC who NEVER broke a sweat even while being pounded with command decisions from all sides. Not once did the man sweat......

Our CERT helo evac litter team, loading choppers with wounded like they had done it all their lives.And the Air Force medics; who genuinely enjoyed having us help them.

James and his team; searching one side of a large building while CBIRF troops in spacesuits were clearing the other side of the building for safe entry.

The teams that searched behind the rubble pile-seemingly a half mile away from the CP. And toted victims back to medical from that distance. WOW.

ALL of the people on ALL of our CERT teams-going 100% on PPE use on both days! You ROCK!!!!We had one scraped arm the entire two days of the exercise.

Judy giving her duct tape desk to the navy medics in the med collection point-and seeing that OUR duct tape victim tags were used by the medics.

The military medics who came up and asked to borrow a roll of duct tape-to make up med station triage tags because they had run out of their own preprinted ones............

The reporter who asked "what station" our "unit" was located-and being shocked to find out we were only citizens.

The smiles on everyone's faces ........

Mary, one of our participants summed it up best-see below.

We ain't pretty, but we get it done........
Integration w/ Army teams
integration with Air force teams
integration with other CERT teams (tried shared and separate command, ditto for teams)
ambus loading
Decon escort duty
Evac helo litter work
Duct tape bonding (literally!) with USAF/ medical folks
triage/ treatment on day 1 - no show for JTF CAPMED - just us CERTs
moulage = record setting... bus loads of vics.... in the dark... at warp speeds
rubble pile search and rescue (in up and over)
large team practice - alpha, beta etc
FC CERTs trying new roles / switching around /SEMPER GUMBY!
new mud record clinging to us
vehicle extraction duties on Wednesday.

Thanks to all who responded-it was an honor and a pleasure to serve with each of you. And we HAVE been enthusiastically invited back to respond in Capitol Shield next year!
Pictures are available for viewing at the following link.

Terry,Scott and Rich
Capitol Shield 2012 leadership team

October Emergency Preparedness newsletter from the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management--check out page 4

The October Emergency Preparedness newsletter from the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management is now available online:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Volunteer Victims Needed for Emergency Simulation Drill VRE

Each year VRE conducts a simulated train disaster – the goal of this is to test VRE’s federally approved Emergency Preparedness Plan as well as our security preparedness. During the simulated disaster, local first responders test their skills in responding to the train emergency, and VRE also gauges our crew, our railroad partners’ and our staffs’ preparedness for addressing any train emergency. This year’s drill will take place in Alexandria, VA. As we do every year, we are looking for volunteers to be victims of this simulated train disaster. The drill will be held on Saturday, November 12. Volunteer victims need to arrive by 7am and should be done by noon. We are limiting the number of participants this year so if you are interested email us at Please put Volunteer Victim in your subject line. First email, first served.

Disaster need Victims!

That's right, we're having a disaster and we need victims. On Saturday October 29, 2011 the current CERT classes will be holding their final exercise at the Juvenile Detention Facility at Lorton Prison. Victims need to arrive at 0700 and be ready for the weather. Long pants and sturdy shoes are required, bug repellent and sunscreen are highly recommended. The exercise will end around 1pm and you will be fed lunch. You should be 15 or older (or parent/guardian must stay with you). For more details email Kevin at

Friday, October 14, 2011

CERT steering committee meeting 18 Oct 2011, Ham radio presentation

At the beginning of the October 18 CERT steering committee meeting, there will be a 15 to 20 minute presentation on “Ham Radio”
Amateur Radio, often called "ham radio," has consistently been the most reliable means of communications in emergencies when other systems failed or were overloaded. This session will provide an overview of Ham Radio, its abilities and limitations and its applicability to emergency response situations.
All are welcome to attend.

We start promptly at 7 pm

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Capitol Shield registrations are now closed......

Thank you all for the interest you have shown in the Capitol Shield 2012 exercise-there has been so much interest that we have filled up ALL available participant spaces for Tuesday, October 18th and Wednesday, October 19th.

WOW. That's 40 CERT members participating in this exercise.

For those who have signed up-a briefing email will be sent to you by Saturday of this week; this email will describe relevant details you need to know for this unique and exciting exercise.

Get ready to rock, CERTs................ :)

volunteer coordinator

Monday, October 10, 2011

Logistics Team Organizes CERT Trailer

Some of you may be saying, "So what, big deal". Well after a number of us have gone to the trailer to get things we need for Outreach or classes and with Fall CERT 2 class getting ready to have their final exercise, (we move the trailer to the exercise site) WE REALLY needed to get into the trailer and organize it!!!

Training got their backpack order in for the next zillion classes all at once. All of that was placed in the trailer along with the Outreach material that comes in and out regularly and exercise and real world supplies. This added up to a MESS!!! I took pictures of the before and after of our work. Thanks to Lani, our Logistics coordinator and her to assistants, Alia Carbone and Faith McCormick, for organizing this CERT "G.I." party. Lani brought bagels and cream cheese. I didn't know they made smoked salmon cream cheese, Lani's favorite!

We pulled most everything out - I can't believe that all that was in the trailer.
We have tied down and secured loose items for the most part, organized the Outreach materials for easier access and just general made better access for all materials in the trailer.
We are hoping to get a donated storage space soon and will be storing some things (backpacks and CPR Andy & Annie) off-site.

Judy Howell
29/East Team
Fairfax County CERT
Volunteer PIO

Here is what we did:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Continuing Preparedness Initiatives In State Government

Continuing Preparedness Initiatives In State Government and Affirmation of the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan

Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell signed Executive Order-41. Read it here:

Directly impacting CERT, it basically gives all state workers 22 hours of paid time to take CERT classes.

BSA Camporee Cancelled, but Fire Station Open Houses are still on

Due to some technical difficulty with the Boys Scouts of America, we must cancel the event scheduled at the Academy on the weekend of October 15th.
We will try to reschedule this event in the Spring.

On another note: We still have the Open Houses at Five Fire Stations to do outreach at.

I have:

Centreville #17: 0 CERT

Fair Oaks #21: 2 CERTs

Mclean #1: 1 CERT

Burke #14: 2 CERTS

Vienna #2: 0 CERT

Please, come out for this event.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Capitol Shield 2012-CERTs, wanna come out and play?

Hi folks,
For the fourth year in a row, Fairfax County CERT has been asked to participate in the National
Capitol Region's disaster coordination and response exercise known as Capitol Shield. Have you ever heard of it? Some have, some haven't-here is a link for you. Take a look around the site; it will give you lots of good info on this exercise.

As you can see, this exercise tests incident response capabilities and coordination between a dizzying array of federal, state and local agencies (Like FEMA, US Secret Service, US Army, US Navy, FBI, DHS, White House communications office,fire and rescue departments from all over the DC metro area, etc). It is an exciting exercise, folks. You will get to see disaster response operations "from the inside" in a way few people get to see.

Our role in this exercise will take place Tuesday,October 18th AND Wednesday,October 19th, 2011 from 0700 to 1500 (7am-3pm) at the Lorton youth prison site in Lorton, VA.

We will serve both as victims for the first responders responding to the incident; we will also work as responders during our part of the exercise. Yes, that's right-we will be working as responders as well.
This will be the second time Fairfax County CERT has worked in a response capability with federal,state and local disaster response assets.

We have been asked to provide 20 or more CERT members for this exercise. This exercise is open to ALL CERT Basic class graduates, CERT 2 and CERT 3 graduates, AND for the first time- the CERT students currently in training in CERT 56 and 57. You can participate in only one day of the exercise if you wish-if you do this let me know which day you wish to participate.
If you are interested in participating in this truly unique and exciting exercise, please email me at :

Please put "participation in Capitol Shield " in the subject line, and let us get your FULL NAME, your CERT CLASS NUMBER, EMAIL ADDRESS and a good contact PHONE NUMBER.
Additional information and pre exercise briefing info/maps/data will be sent to you in the days prior to the exercise.


Fairfax County CERT/
CERT volunteer coordinator