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