Friday, June 28, 2013

Attendee Information for This Weekend's CERT CON 2013

CERT CON 2013 is almost here, and we're all looking forward to seeing you -- both on Saturday for a full day of seminars, talks, and hands-on learning sessions, and on Sunday for the full-scale exercise.

Registered CERT CON participants, check your email for a "Message to Attendees" that has all the logistical information you'll need, including start times, directions, session information, and more. Here are some of the highlights:


 Getting to CERT CON 2013

Saturday's CERT CON events will be held on the campus of Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Campus. The address is 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22003:

Please park in Parking Lot B. CERT staffers in vests will be on hand to guide traffic, and once you've parked, follow the signs to the Ernst Cultural Community Center (Building CE on the campus map).

The Ernst Cultural Community Center
On-site check-in runs from 7:30 AM to 9 AM. Please bring valid photo ID. The program begins promptly at 9am; plan on arriving early to get your coffee and light breakfast, and do some networking with your fellow CERT CON attendees. (The Saturday program will run to 4:30 PM -- lunch will be served at the appropriate time.)

Are You Registered for Your Saturday Sessions?

The attendee email also includes a link to the registration form for Saturday's breakout seminars. Make sure you've indicated your choices -- the planning team is doing its best ensure that people get their first choice of seminar.

You can see class session descriptions, instructor bios and more at the CERT CON 2013 Registration page.

Saturday Social Media

We'll have guest access to the campus Wi-Fi network -- check at the registration desk for details.

If you'll be posting content from CERT CON:

* Tag your blog posts, photos, etc. with "CERTCON"
* Twitter users, use the hashtag #CERTCON, and follow @FairfaxCtyCERT for updates about the event, and to submit questions and feedback via @reply or DM.
* Flickr users, add your photos to the CERT CON 2013 photo pool

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Remember, Sunday will be the full-scale exercise, and it'll take place at the former Lorton Correctional Facility in Lorton, Virginia. If you're a "victim" actor, please arrive by 7:30 AM so your injury makeup ("moulage") can be applied -- all others should arrive by 8 AM.

Full directions and site information will be given out on Saturday. (If you're a "victim" actor, or only attending Sunday, please email for location information.)

CERTs training at the Lorton site earlier in 2013.
Please note: The Lorton site features highly realistic conditions, so there will be an extensive site safety briefing on Saturday and Sunday. It is critical that all participants (actors, observers, CERTCON staff and CERTs) do the following:
  • Bring photo ID. (Victim actors will also be required to sign a waiver.)
  • Wear ONLY closed-toe shoes. No flip-flops, sandals, etc. No exceptions. (There's a lot of broken glass and rubble at the site.)
  • Long pants are mandatory. That's right: No shorts.
  • Bring insect repellent, sunscreen, and a water bottle. (Ticks are a known hazard at the site.)
  • CERTs who will be participating in the exercise should remember to bring their CERT gear, including full PPE (personal protective equipment.)
Water and portable toilets will be provided, and lunch will be served. (But there's no Wi-Fi.)

We look forward to seeing you this weekend. Remember, you can check the CERT CON 2013 event page for more information.

Finally, if you like, please post a comment below to introduce yourself to your fellow attendees.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Emergency Planning for Vacation

tsunami warning: beach closed  
Image by Flickr user yabanji, used under Creative Commons license.
This was originally published in the Individual and Community E-Brief, FEMA June 26, 2013. Learn how to get free e-mail updates from FEMA.

It's summertime! Kids are out of school, parents and adults are taking advantage of the warm weather and planning vacations locally and outside of their area.  Some people live in areas where there is minimal risk of weather causing a major affect on the planning and excitement of the vacation, so when they move to other parts of the country or outside of the U.S., preparedness needs to be considered.

Vacationers must be aware of their surroundings and ensure proper precautions are made in emergency planning for their vacation.  Below are helpful tips shared on the National Preparedness Coalition discussion board when preparing for vacation.
  • Have copies of your travel documents and passports available with you.  Make electronic copies for back-up purposes.
  • Check weather for your vacation destination.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance when traveling to areas with known risks such as the Caribbean during hurricane season.  Make sure natural disasters are covered in the travel insurance.
  • Pack an emergency kit that includes first aid supplies and any prescriptions.
  • Heed the warning. Follow the lead of the residents when warning siren or advisories are made.
Illinois Emergency Management Agency has declared June Vacation Preparedness month. Read more on the initiative and their tips.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Brief History of CERTCON So Far

Logo for the CERTCON 2013 Conference, June 29-30, Fairfax, VirginiaCERTCON 2013, the conference and full-scale exercise for Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members from the National Capital Region and beyond, is less than two weeks away. (If you haven't signed up yet, spaces are running out, so sign up now to reserve your spot.)

2013 marks the third CERTCON, hosted this year by Fairfax County CERT, in partnership with Georgetown University CERT, Prince George's County CERT, Montgomery County CERT, the Northern Virginia Community College Office of Emergency Management & Planning, Virginia Department of Emergency Management and Citizen Corps.

CERTCON is free for CERTs and friends of CERT (though only trained CERTs will be able to participate in the full-scale exercise as players -- non-CERTs can observe the classes and be victims during the exercise. See the CERTCON 2013 registration page for more information.)

I've been fortunate enough to have attended every CERTCON so far (though as a participant, not an organizer), so here are some of my personal observations (with photos).


CERTCON 2011 was the inaugural CERTCON, kicked off by Montgomery County CERT and held in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The original keynote speaker, Sheree Weldon Fugate, was unable to make it, but she was able to procure a substitute: Her husband, Craig Fugate, Administrator of FEMA.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. See more photos from CERTCON 2011.

Yes, the head of FEMA was a substitute speaker. The good thing about being in the National Capital Region is that you can sometimes get speakers like this at the last minute -- especially speakers who really believe in the CERT mission.

CERTCON Gets Some Exercise

CERTCON 2012 featured a few new firsts -- hosted by Georgetown University CERT on the Georgetown campus, it was the first held in DC, and also the first to feature a full-scale practical exercise, which included CERTs from around the region, as well as Georgetown nursing students, police officers, and EMTs).

CERTs and other players at the CERTCON 2012 exercise. See more photos: Day 1 and Day 2.


What Will We See in 2013?

Day 1 (Saturday, June 29) will include lectures, roundtables, and classes at the Northern Virginia Community College Annandale campus in Fairfax, Virginia.

Day 2 will feature a field exercise that will take place at the former Lorton Juvenile Reformatory site in Lorton, Virginia, a huge, training facility used by many professional first responders, including the international urban search and rescue team Virginia Task Force 1.

What other firsts will we see in 2013? Register now and find out at CERTCON 2013, June 29 and 30 and see for yourself.