Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Victim Actors Needed: CERT Final Exercise, Saturday, November 15

We need victim actors for the upcoming Fairfax County CERT graduation final exercise!

Victim actors show off their wound makeup from the Spring 2014 final exercise. All photos: Joe Loong.

Victims actors play an important role in CERT training. Wearing realistic wound makeup and role-playing as disaster survivors, victim actors help CERT responders practice their skills on real, live human beings in a realistic, stressful, simulated mass casualty incident.

Who Can Be a Victim? Anyone 15 years of age or older. All physical abilities are welcome. Perfect for drama classes, students needing community service hours, retired persons, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and anyone interested in disasters.

When: Saturday, November 15, 2014, from around 7AM-2PM

Where: The Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Lorton Training Site, located at the former Lorton Juvenile Detention Center in Lorton, Virginia.

Victim Actor Requirements: 
  • 15 years of age or older
  • Must wear closed-toe shoes (no flip-flops, Crocs, sandals, etc) 
  • Should dress in clothes appropriate for the weather and that you don't mind messing up with fake blood, etc. 
  • Will need to sign a waiver 
We will make you up in moulage (simulated wound makeup) and give you symptoms to role-play. When the exercise is over, we'll feed you lunch. 
To Sign Up: Please send email to

Info for Victim Actors

About the Lorton Training Site

The Lorton Training Site is located at the former Lorton Juvenile Detention Center (JDC), part of the Lorton prison complex that closed in 2001.

While parts of the adult prison have been transformed into an art center, the JDC site has been beaten up for years by the elements and the first responders who train there, making it the perfect place for a disaster simulation.

Views of the former Lorton Juvenile Detention Center.

Moulage (Wound Makeup)

After checking in, victim actors will be given a set of injuries that they'll get to role-play, with moulage (wound makeup) to match. Simulated injuries can range from mild cuts and bruises, to major injuries like severe lacerations, compound fractures, impalements, and even amputations! (If you don't want to get too messy, you can request lighter injuries... although many folks feel that getting gory fake injuries is part of the fun!)

Victim actors sport a variety of simulated injuries that rescuers will have to treat.

Our moulage team will use makeup, fake blood, latex and silicone appliances, and props to help you get into character and give a convincing performance.

You'll also get some symptoms to act out. The rest is up to you: You can portray a stoic survivor, or you can role-play someone who's dazed, distraught, disoriented, or in shock. Check out this victim actor's performance:

What Happens Next...

After a safety briefing, you'll be moved into position on the training site. The exercise will begin... but the disaster area has multiple buildings over a wide area, and search and rescue teams will first need to find you!

While you wait, exercise controllers will make sure you stay warm and hydrated, and they'll tell you when rescuers get within hearing distance, so you'll know when to start acting and crying for help (if your simulated injuries allow you to cry for help, of course).

A victim actor with a simulated hand amputation waits for CERT rescue teams to find him.

If they follow their training, CERT rescuers will find you, assess your condition, and tag you according to the severity of your simulated injuries... all under the watchful eye of exercise controllers and evaluators.

CERT rescuers splint a simulated leg injury.

You'll receive some quick treatment in the field. If you have minor simulated injuries, you may even be able to walk out with your CERT rescuers. Otherwise, you may have to wait for rescuers to transport you to the medical area for more comprehensive care.

A CERT rescue team carries a victim actor out of a building and to the medical area.

After the end of the exercise is called, we'll serve lunch, and you'll get to swap stories with CERT rescuers, staffers, and your fellow victim actors.

Sound like fun? It is, and it's a unique way to spend a Saturday morning!

Sign Up to Be a Victim Actor Now by emailing


  1. You have a truly fantastic blog here. I just took over as Coordinator for Toms River CERT in New Jersey and aim to have such exciting content as your program has in place. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks, and glad you like our blog! Congratulations on your new role as Toms River CERT Coordinator, and we'll look forward to seeing what your program is doing.


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