Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fairfax County CERT Wins Volunteer Fairfax 2017 Volunteer Service Award

The Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was selected as the outstanding Fairfax County Government Volunteer Program for 2016 at the annual Volunteer Fairfax awards breakfast held at The Waterford in Springfield on April 21, 2017.

CERT, a Citizen Corps program managed by the county’s Fire and Rescue Department, prepares county citizens to safely help themselves, their families, and their communities during major emergencies when first responders are delayed or overwhelmed due to the size or nature of the emergency.

Fairfax County CERT representatives accept the 2017 Volunteer Service Award for Fairfax County Volunteer Program. Photo via Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department (@ffxfirerescue)
Some highlights for the Fairfax County CERT program for 2016 which led to their award include:
  • Donating almost 22,000 volunteer hours by 621 active CERT volunteers, for an estimated value to the county of over $550,000
  • Delivering 10 community-based CERT classes, taught by CERT volunteer instructors, at government centers, churches, Ft. Belvoir, and similar venues
  • Assisting the professional Fire and Rescue Academy instructors in teaching six CERT classes at the Fire and Rescue Academy
  • Training 226 new CERTs in those six classes, enhancing Fairfax County’s resiliency by expanding the community of prepared, self-sufficient citizens, ready to help their neighbors in a disaster
  • Hosting and participating in 57 continuing education classes for CERT volunteers during the year
Unique accomplishment for the Fairfax County CERT program for 2016 included hosting CERTCON 2016, a two-day conference for CERTs in the mid-Atlantic/National Capital Area region; teaching a Pet First Aid/CPR class in support of establishing a Fairfax County Community Animal Response Team (CART); and assisting the City of Fairfax/American Red Cross and Volunteer Fairfax in smoke detector testing and installation after a fatal fire in the Comstock neighborhood.

CERTs also served as role players in the National Guard’s 2016 Sovereign Guardian exercise, Virginia Task Force 1’s re-certification exercise, and a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Silver Line Metro train drill. These and other exercises and drills supported by Fairfax County CERT members enhanced realism, helped build first responder critical skills, and ensured their readiness to respond to emergencies.

Additionally, CERT volunteers partnered with the county’s Health Department and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) in the first-ever Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER). CERTs participated in both CASPER training and the conduct of CASPER surveys within the community.

CERTs trained in applying trauma simulation make-up (moulage), continued to provide services for local, state, and federal public safety and emergency management organizations. During county EMT classes and examinations and CERT exercises, they created realistic injuries for first responders and CERTs to treat, improving the training experience.

2016 also saw an increase in CERT volunteers obtaining their amateur radio (Ham) radio licenses, and maintaining proficiency through monthly radio net testing, significantly expanding the county’s volunteer emergency communications resources.

Finally, CERT volunteers participated in 39 annual events throughout Fairfax County, providing outreach and operational support to events that included Celebrate Fairfax, Herndon Festival, Fall for Fairfax, Springfield Bridge Walk, Burke Center Festival (Ready-Set-Know), National Night Out, Fire Station Open Houses, and Fairfax Station Railroad Museum’s First Responder Day, to name a just few.

For these and many more contributions, Fairfax County’s CERT program is well-deserving of this award from Volunteer Fairfax for 2016. Well done, and may you continue to do great things to support the county in the future.

Susy Legerwood, CERT Class 4, is Moulage Team Lead. Steve Richardson, CERT Class 14, is a ham (KK4GOR) and Logistics Lead.