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