Monday, March 30, 2015

CERT Training Prepares George Mason Students for the "Big & Bad"

It's a Monday night, and Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) instructors are in the Recreation and Athletic Complex of George Mason University's Fairfax campus, teaching 30 GMU students how to perform simple triage and rapid treatment in case of something "big and bad" -- like a mass casualty situation.

We're here because of Nancy Chamberlain, a GMU adjunct faculty member, Red Cross-certified safety instructor, wilderness first responder, trained CERT, and most importantly, instructor for the course HEAL 205 - Principles of Accident Causation and Prevention.

Instructor Nancy Chamberlain (second from left) with some of her students (from left), Sam Scullen, Ian Stewart, and Bobby Stanley. Photos: Joe Loong
As part of the class, the students are learning American Red Cross First Aid, CPR/AED, bloodborne pathogen safety, wilderness first aid, and of course, the full 25-hour CERT training.

According to Nancy, the reason for making CERT training a required part of the class is simple: Job preparation. Most of the students will go on to the health or education fields, working in public schools or public facilities. CERT training, which Nancy calls "Fabulous, very hands-on, very practical, very straightforward training," will prepare them if they're ever part of a large-scale emergency response environment, mass casualty scenario, active shooter incident, or severe weather emergency.

Plus, as Nancy says, CERT training gives the students skills that will be useful in their jobs,  daily lives, and social efforts in the community at large.

Fairfax County CERT Adjunct Instructor Rich Hall (blue shirt, center) leads a post-drill "hot wash" review with the CERT students and victim actors.
Nancy deserves thanks for her innovative way of incorporating CERT training into the preparedness curriculum, and for helping build the community's resilience by involving the future's leaders, today.

Fairfax County CERT provides training to groups at locations throughout the community year-round. If you represent a community group (like a homeowner's association, company, or other organization) that would like to receive free CERT training, have at least 12 people committed to train, and can provide a training space (like a community center or other facility), please contact for more information.

Joe Loong, volunteer Social Media Specialist for Fairfax County CERT, is an editorial content and community engagement consultant. You can email him at

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