Friday, May 16, 2014

Demoing Duct Tape Triage Tags and Dashboards at the Emergency Management Institute

Here's a dispatch from Fairfax County CERT Assistant Volunteer Lead Anita Van der Merwe, who, along with Fairfax County Fire & Rescue's Dana Powers, is taking a training course at the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland:
Asst. Volunteer Lead Anita Van der Merwe demonstrates duct tape triage tags and dashboards. Photo: Dana Powers.
I am taking the CERT "Train the Trainer" class at the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) in Emmitsburg Maryland this week.

There are 41 students in the class from all over the country. Many of the students are the program managers for their CERT programs.

The Course Manager saw a demo I did in my breakout group and asked me to present it to the full class, which also includes 4 FEMA instructors.

I covered the Fairfax County way of using duct tape for tagging the injured: desktop on one leg, tags on the other. It was well received, and there were good questions.

Go Fairfax! Go duct tape!
Good work, Anita! Here's a portion of her demonstration, which is available on the Fairfax County CERT YouTube Channel (which is a thing -- don't forget to subscribe to our channel to get notified when we post new videos):


Why Duct Tape?

Now, why does Fairfax County CERT use duct tape and magic markers (we recommend Sharpie-brand retractable markers, for easy, one-handed use) to tag and record patient information, when there are purpose-built triage tags already used by first responders?

The simple answer is: Triage tags (and triage tape, and colored flagging tape, and...) are great, but citizen responders are probably not going to have those specialized items handy during a disaster, whereas you can find magic markers and duct tape just about anywhere.

And once you're trained using the "duct tape tag and dashboard" method, it's easy to adapt what you've learned to other methods.

About EMI Training

CERT groups in the DC metro area are lucky we have the Emergency Management Institute fairly close by (it's only an hour-and-a-half drive away). Anita and Dana are taking the "Train the Trainer" course, which teaches CERT leaders how to train others in CERT skills.

The EMI offers specialized training for all sorts of emergency management and first responder types. Trained, committed CERTs have the opportunity to take EMI courses at no charge -- though you first need to get approval from our sponsoring organization, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

Of course, the EMI has lots of other courses useful for CERTs that you can take from the comfort of your own home -- check out the EMI's Independent Study Program, where you can take courses on the emergency manager role, the Incident Command System (ICS), and much, much more.

Joe Loong is a Blog Editor and Social Media Specialist for Fairfax County CERT. You can email him at

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