Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fort Belvoir force protection exercise recap

Hi folks,
Today myself, Andrew Levy of CERT 15 and Sherry deVries of Alexandria CERT participated in Fort Belvoir's force protection exercise. We were CERT victim volunteers today; in two different scenarios. This force protection exercise involved assets from the Department of Defense; the FBI, DHS,and the Virginia Department of Emergency management.The military district of Washington graded the exercise.
The first exercise started about 9am in the parking lot of the Fort Belvoir PX. The first scenario was a truckload of chlorine which was exploded in the parking lot. Andrew, Sherry and I (and 21 other government employee and soldier victims) were scattered across the parking lot with symptoms of difficulty breathing, vomiting, skin irritation and dizziness. We were moulaged to simulate the skin irritation; we all looked like we had severe sunburns!
When the "accident" was called in, fire police and EMS all showed up and began to triage us. We were scattered all over the parking lot and it took Ft. Belvoir Fire dept. about 50 minutes to find all 24 victims. (they used triage tape to tag us; and they use the exact same red,yellow, black and green tags we did in the older classes. Neat, huh.) The rescue services had no prior knowledge of the event; they clearly looked stressed when they came to the site only to see victims everywhere screaming, crying, vomiting and falling on the hoods of the MP police cars.....We stressed them more :)
I was at the bottom end of the parking lot with 3 other victims; we were triaged there and red tagged by the fire dept. and asked if we could walk to the decontamination station.(Although we were red tagged.) We had to walk through the middle of the hot zone; Folks, you remember the concept of decontamination; with hot, warm and cold zones? We could walk, but I "collapsed" about halfway up the hill. The firemen were making us walk near the truck that was "exploded"; they were hosing down the truck with water. The firemen came up and asked if I could walk; I couldn't (hey, I collapsed).
Derek showed us in a recent CERT refresher a really unique rescue method.This is the one where you drag a victim out of a danger zone using rope or webbing wrapped through the victim's arms and around the back. The firemen wrapped a strap between my arms and round my back in this manner. But, they kept my spine straight as they rolled me over; although I was walking I did collapse hard onto the pavement. And they started dragging me out of the danger zone.
Derek mentioned that this rescue method is "rough on the body". I was dragged about 150 feet or so to the decontamination station using this method; and I can TELL you it's rough. My back is scraped up; my butt got scraped up.I was dragged across asphalt; and in this 150 feet the back of my shirt got holed and shredded; the rear waistband of my pants got shredded and the swim trunks underneath got holed.(and my butt got scraped up too... )Folks, I got chewed up....But; Derek was RIGHT. When your'e in a hurry to get someone out of danger quickly this is a VERY effective method. Just make sure the victim is unconscious; otherwise they're in for an unpleasant time.......
I saw Andrew at the decontamination station; they did a "gross contamination" on all red tagged victims. I.E they did not disrobe us; they just hit us with 2 inch fire hoses. Andrew was up to his victim antics; running round tormenting the rescuers and going to the ambulance and pulling OUT ! medical supplies bags; and taking them over to the decon station to "help save" the victims. He gave the rescuers an oscar winning victim performance! He unloaded the ambulance of about half of the supplies, then he went to command asking if he could help; it was great! Sherry from Alexandria CERT had a "heart attack" and was decontaminated on the stretcher she was hauled out on. The firemen and police on scene overall did a decent job; one eye opener was the fact that the military police on post carry biohazard suits and masks with them in the cars.
Once this part of the exercise was over, we were bussed over to another building for the second part of the exercise. We played victim family members; a "plane crash" had occurred and we were to torment the family assistance center staff by being well, distraught, upset, potentially violent family members. We were asking for information; these centers are set up after an airplane crash or mass casualty event to disseminate a managed flow of information to the family members and the media. Again, this was another oppurtunity to play victim; the volunteers running this family assistance center were for the most part brand new and they were stressed out badly. The "fist fight" between two victim family members was interesting; but it was the distraught family member that pulled a "gun" and took one of the assistance center volunteers hostage that took the cake. The MP's were called in to "take out" the hostage taker; this was occuring while we were being evacuated from the building and while still tormenting the volunteers for information.This was an utterly chaotic part of the exercise; the family assistance center on Fort Belvoir needs work; LOTS of it. They got a valuable education today.
The exercise was over at this point; I stuck around post for the 3 pm "hotwash"("informal" debrief, although it took two hours) held by the post commander and his staff. This was a 2 hour recap of the entire force protection exercise; and the CERT volunteers were given special recognition by the command staff, the post commander, the people who ran the family assistance center program and the medical referees. We were recognized by the commander for our enthusiasm, our creativity and our initiative in making the exercise more realistic. Fort Belvoir has tried on three seperate occasions to try and set up a CERT program on post; for whatever reason all 3 attempts have failed. The post commander, Col.Lauritzer really appreciated the CERT effort we showed today; and mentioned it in the "hotwash"
Folks, our CERT program got some major "face time" today. Thanks to Andrew and Sherry for helping make the volunteer portion of today's program such a success.
volunteer PIO

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A "Hi there!" from the CERT PIO..

Hey there everyone!
I'm a new blogger on the CERT blog; Cathleen, thanks for the invite. You all may remember me; I'm Terry from the CERT 14 class and Derek has asked me to perform as the Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Fairfax county CERT program. Thank you Derek, I am honored and will perform this duty to the absolute best of my ability.
For all my fellow CERT's out there in blog land; here's what I'd like to do as "Public Information Officer". I'd like to show the residents of our county "what we do" as CERTs. The fire and rescue department has provided us with a a large tabletop display and I'll be toting this display to a number of different already scheduled events in the county. We're doing the county's residents a helpful, useful function in the case of a large disaster as CERT and we need to let them know,"Hey, we're here"......... I think people call this "community outreach"; let's let the community know who we are and what we do. If you have a homeowners' meeting where you'd like to see CERT discussed, is there a church group that might be interested in what we train for; etc. Let Derek know first; he's the official CERT man and he has the ultimate say so on things like this. But, I am volunteering and if he approves of an event I'll be more than happy to do it.
Second, we as CERTs get lots of requests to volunteer for events; requests to be victims, etc. Derek will let us all know of these sorts of things; as I get these requests I'll post them to the blog asking for volunteers. I'll coordinate these requests and line up the volunteers.
Folks, I can tell you CERT's are popular! as victims and volunteers (which speaks volumes on the quality and effectiveness of the training we recieve; as well as the inherent high spirit of community and volunteerism among our CERT members-CERT's rock!). There are a number of events where CERT volunteers are needed; below is a list of them:

Saturday September 15th-Red Cross save a life event at Thomas Jefferson HS-I need help manning the CERT display from 8am to 5pm here. We'll talk about CERT to the event attendees and hand out disaster preparedness information as well.

Saturday October 6th- Alexandria CERT's final exercise-Alexandria CERT is looking for 50 to 75 victims for the event; with however many CERT folks who would like to participate. Come out and be a victim! You all know how much you secretly crave to be moulaged and be buried in a pile of wood :)

October 13th and 14th-This will be the Boy Scout's disaster drill camporee to be held at the fire academy itself. Charles Monts of CERT (12th class, Charles?) is planning an absolutely AWESOME camporee for these scouts-imagine going camping and having a natural disaster happen? WOW.....He's going to need 12 to 15 CERT's to help; both as "subject matter experts" and help with logistics, medical and the like. For those who helped volunteer for the spring camporee in Reston; each of you know how much fun that event was! Folks, we had a blast at this camporee; Kevin Mullins ,charles Monts and Eydie did an incredible job of manning the "tornado trailer". Jim Raba and John Birch did a super job manning our CERT gear display and Andrew, as always earned the CERT "oscar" for most creatively noisy car crash victim......
This one promises to be even more fun, both for the scouts as well as for the volunteers. And, the theme of disaster preparedness will be a message these scouts can learn and remember for the rest of their lives.

These are some of the events that we're needed for. If you'd like to help at any of these events; please, drop me an email and let me know! Let's let the residents of this great county we live in that we're there for them!
CERT volunteer PIO

Online CERT Class

For those who haven't taken it or would like a refresher of their CERT skills, please visit the CERT national website to check out "Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams" or class IS- 317. It is an independent study course that serves as an introduction to CERT for those wanting to complete training or as a refresher for current team members. It has six modules with topics that include an Introduction to CERT, Fire Safety, Hazardous Material and Terrorist Incidents, Disaster Medical Operations, and Search and Rescue. It takes between six and eight hours to complete the course.

You can find the class online at

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Upcoming Events

The Alexandria CERT final exercise will be held October 6th from 9am to 1pm. They are looking for 50 to 75 total victims for their final. Please contact Terry ( and he'll forward your name, phone number and email address to the appropriate people in Alexandria.

In addition, the BSA fall "disaster drill camporee" will be held October 13th and 14th. They are looking for 15 trained CERTS for this event. 6 to 8 of these CERT's will be "subject matter experts" in various aspects of disaster preparedness; the remainder will be used for logistics, moulage, etc.....Terry is coordinating volunteers for this event as well.

Fort Belvoir exercise directions

The briefing starts at 2pm today. For those attending (the briefing or the exercise), here are directions to the location. Please contact Terry for more information.

From I 95 South take exit 166 towards Fort Belvoir. You'll loop back OVER I 95; and travel approximately 3.5 miles. You will pass an exxon fuel tank farm on your right about a half mile down; you'll see businesses on your left.Keep going until the road dead ends. You will dead end into Route one; turn left (or north )onto Route 1. You will go approximately 1/2 mile to the next red light (there will be a Hess gas station on the left side of the road). TURN RIGHT; this is the Tulley Gate entrance to fort Belvoir.

Travel approximately 3/4 mile to the "visitor center"; pull into the RIGHT lane and PARK at the visitor center. You'll need to stop here to get a pass, unless you already have a base/post sticker or ID card for you or your vehicle TAKE YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE, VEHICLE REGISTRATION AND INSURANCE CARD INSIDE WITH YOU.A PASS WILL NOT BE ISSUED IF THESE ITEMS ARE NOT PRESENT..... When you go inside tell the nice people that you are there for the force protection exercise and you need to get a pass to go to 9820 Flagler road. They will write/type one out for you. Please place this on the drivers side of the windshield and make sure it's visible.
You'll pull out of the parking lot into a huge area covered by an "awning", where the nice MP will ask you to open all the doors ,hood and trunk of the vehicle. This is a standard security check and you should only have to go through it once. They will walk around the vehicle looking for contraband. In light of the nature of this force protection exercise the security level, or "THREATCON" may be increased at this gate. To us this means they may do a more thorough check of your vehicle.
Once this is done, you'll be waved through onto the post. As an old military sales rep I'll give you a good piece of advice-religiously OBEY the speed limits on post and the speed limit when passing groups of troops marching/running/sweating on side of the road is 10 miles per hour. Don't ever speed in a military housing area.Heed the speed limits. When the speed limit says 25 miles and hour; it does not mean 26 miles per hour............

Once through the checkpoint you'll drive approximately 3/4 mile to the first red light. Turn RIGHT onto GUNSTON road.You'll go down another 3/4 mile to 18th Street. TURN LEFT.

Once you're on 18th street you'll go down a mile or so to FLAGLER ROAD.
TURN RIGHT , look for 9820 and park in this area. (Note to each of you-this area is typically very congested and parking can be at a premium.) If you can't find parking on Flagler road you can go to Kuhn st; which is the next street over from Flagler.

You're looking for conference room 010 at 9820 flagler road; the conference room is in the basement. As always if you have ANY questions please feel free to email me at Thanks for participating in this exercise; this exercise was written up in the Fort Belvoir Eagle last week (the post newspaper) and promises to be a fascinating and truly unique glimpse into disaster response and mitigation at the Federal, state and county levels.
Thanks for your help!
Fairfax County CERT

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Two-Way Radio Workshop Poll

The polled question was "Would a workshop reviewing the basics of using a portable 2-way radio be helpful?" 13 people responded "Yes!", 4 answered "I may be interested" and 7 said "Not Interested." Although this poll is unscientific, it appears there is enough interest to work up a workshop ... we'll let you know when one is scheduled... thanks for participating!

Fairfax County's Emergenct Information Telephone Line

The Fairfax County Government Emergency Information Line is your link to essential information during emergency events.

Residents may call 703-817-7771, TTY 711, to speak with staff during normal government business hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.). During emergency events, the emergency information line operates with extended hours. At other times, callers can choose from a menu of recorded information or leave a message that will be returned the next business day.

For more information, you can visit

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Add Fairfax County CERT to your FEEDS

If you use a newsfeeder service of any kind or want to add us to your list of feeds that say, Google Mail uses, you can cut and paste the following link to check out our content!

Information on Virginia Emergency Topics

You can receive updates from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management by signing up for their online news service. You can choose from the following:

1) EM Update to receive timely, relevant news summaries addressing current emergency management topics. These summaries will be transmitted on a biweekly basis or more frequently as events warrant. To see a recent sample go to the EM Update archives.

2) Flash to receive VDEM news releases and information on our public awareness campaigns.

The URL to sign up is available at

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Half-Hour CPR Classes Effective: Study

Bernie from CERT 14 passed along this interesting article from the August 4th Edition of the Washington Post. A new study found that thirty-minute CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) classes can be just as effective as a half-day course. The full article can be found at although you may need to create an account and log in to view the article. Thanks Bernie!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Knot Tying

One of the elements you can have in your "skills" toolbox is how to tie a number of knots. There are a number of great websites that deal with knots and how to tie them but I want to point out They have separate sections for search/rescue, boating, scouting, etc.

Language Courses

One issue facing us in CERT (depending on which part of the county you live or work) is the number of people who may not speak any English and how to handle communication in case of emergency. While I was flying, I caught an article that you can find free language lessons for your ipod that you can listen to during short spurts during the day, that can help refreshen those language skills you had from high school or college and then lost due to disuse. They may be helpful for the mastery of rudimentary phrases of a new language.

Friday, August 17, 2007

FEMA Home Page Redesigned

You can see it at ... ... now they have a cool flashy headline piece on the front (similar to the TSAs site)... I have to assume the rest of the site will follow soon. I think it's a big improvement from the old site (although I will miss having the photo library on the front!)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

New Preparedness Resources For Seniors, People With Disabilities And Pet Owners

The severe weather experienced this summer in parts of the country, and the continuing threat of terrorism, are reminders of how critical it is for all Americans to prepare for emergencies. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Campaign has released three new demonstration videos designed to highlight the specific steps older Americans, individuals with disabilities and special needs, and pet owners should take to prepare for emergencies.

“All Americans have a responsibility to take steps now to be prepared for emergencies whether they are caused by nature or by man,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “These new demonstration videos detail some of the unique steps seniors, people with disabilities and pet owners should take to keep themselves and their families safe and prepared for the unexpected.”

The Department of Homeland Security worked with AARP, National Organization on Disability and The Humane Society of the United States to develop these new emergency preparedness resources. The videos, available online at, remind individuals to get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan and be informed about the different types of emergencies while considering the unique needs of these individuals, their families and caregivers. The videos recommend seniors include any necessary prescription medications in their emergency supply kits. It encourages Americans with disabilities or special needs to create a personal support network that they can rely on during an emergency. Pet owners are advised to learn which emergency shelters in their area and/or along their evacuation route will allow pets.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fort Belvoir Eagle Response Seeking Volunteers for 28 and 30Aug Force Protection Exercise

Terry is our CERT Point of Contact for this event. You can let him know of your interest or contact the fine folks at Fort Belvoir at the end of this posting. I have no further information on this event. Volunteers for the event can reach Terry via email at with your name, phone number and
email address; and if you are available for both days.

They are seeking 20 volunteer role players for this exercise. [1 hour on Tuesday 28 Aug at 1400 for a briefing. 4 hours on Thursday, 30 Aug]

Role players will be expected to act as victims/patients/family members during this exercise.

(If the role players are not DOD ID card holders, they will need to allow ample time to coordinate entry onto post through Tulley Gate. The entrance is from Richmond Highway at Pohick Road.)

The requirements:
a. On 28 August, 1400 - 1500 hours, Report to building 269 at 9820 Flagler Road, room 010 (Small Conference Room in the basement) for in-briefing. (Additional parking is available behind the building on Kuhn Rd.)

b. On 30 August, 0800 - 1200 hours, Report to the POC at building 269, room 010

Points of contact at Fort Belvoir are: Ms. Pickard at 703-805-4004 or Mr. Garcia at 703-805-4001.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Two New CERT Refreshers are Scheduled.

Via Email from Derek...

This Wednesday evening August 15th at the Fire Academy will be two Standard Evolution drills. To operate with as much daylight as possible and to improve learning, we would like to start this refresher at 6:30pm. This will also allow us to get out earlier!

These drills will include a quick review of techniques and then a simple scenario. If you know anyone who is interested in CERT this would be a great refresher to bring them along. Maybe they can even act as victims! (Of course, having some victims would be great so feel free to bring some!)

The next refresher will be on Wednesday August 22nd at 7:00pm and will be on the use of rope and webbing for a variety of techniques.

These will include tag lines, mechanical advantages, utility rope use, and the use of webbing. We’ll also introduce the very effective “550 Cord” to your CERT toolbox. (550 cord is military parachute cord that is almost as useful as duct tape.)

Please bring all of your gear, long pants, and closed toe shoes.

Remember this Wednesday’s refresher is at 6:30pm!

No need to sign up, just show up.


Friday, August 10, 2007

E-Verify Program

E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.

E-Verify is free and participation is voluntary. Employers can register at Registration for E-Verify. You can learn more at E-Verify.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Adding In Case of Emergency to your Cell Phone Address book

We have discussed this in class but it bears repeating!

To help first responders contact your next of kin if you are unable to respond due to illness or injury, add ICE (in case of emergency) as a contact to your cell phone. If you have more than one contact, you can add them as either ICE1, ICE2 or with a more descriptive name (ICE-Dad, ICE-Mom). So program your mobile phone today!

There is a plethora of information on this at Wikipedia at

CERT Refresher Class Update

For those who came out, great job! They maneuvered a couple very large pieces of concrete (a slab and a tube) around the academy grounds using the power of simple machines. Steve began the class by reviewing other tools you may have around your home that could be used for extraction. Terry shared his experiences with jacks used in the automotive industry. Soon, teams went to work and coordinated their efforts to move the sizable pieces of concrete in high temperatures and slightly uneven terrain. A great job was done by all!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

CERT Refresher Class August 8, 2007

Tonight we are going to be conducting advanced rescue scenarios. That means fun moving large pieces of concrete using simple machines. In fact, we are going to move them from one place to another. This will provide an opportunity to use lots of problem solving, and creative use of simple machines and cribbing. You’ll need to improvise many new tools during these scenarios.

The class will start at 7pm at the Fire Academy. See you then!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Digital age spawns a new first−responder

From today's open source report:

August 04, Boston Globe — Digital age spawns a new first−responder. When a bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed in Minneapolis on Wednesday, August 1, bystanders raced to the scene to offer assistance, and to document the tragedy for the world. Citizens with digital cameras had posted hundreds of images of the wreckage to Internet photo−sharing sites within 11 hours of the tragedy. Such photos aren't just personal documents; at a news conference, investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board asked to hear from people who had their cameras trained on the bridge at the moment it fell. Several people have responded so far, and the agency hopes their photos will yield clues to the collapse. It's the most recent example of a transformation in the way we think about disasters. The term "first−responder" officially means the police, fire, and rescue workers who come to the aid of victims. But the digital age has given rise to a new kind of first−responder −− ordinary citizens with cell phones, computers, and Internet access. These people leap into action without being asked. They shoot snapshots and video of ongoing disasters. And they set up instant social networks that provide vital information to the public, the news media, and even the government. Source: l_age_spawns_a_new_first_responder/

Friday, August 3, 2007

Prepare Your Home

The best time to prepare your home for disaster is before it happens ... this checklist by VA Emergency discusses things you can do as well as items to consider contracting out.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

National Preparedness Month

September 2007 marks the fourth annual National Preparedness Month, a nationwide
effort held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools. National Preparedness Month 2007 is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The goal of the month is to increase public awareness about the importance of preparing for emergencies and to encourage individuals to take action. For the first time, the month will have weekly themes.
• September 1-8; Back-to-School
• September 9-15; Business preparedness
• September 16-22; Multicultural preparedness
• September 23-30; Home and family preparedness, including pets, older Americans and individuals with disabilities and special needs

If your organization would like to link to the National Preparedness Month Web site, visit the site to use one of their images.

DHS Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report

A bit of more detailed reading if you are interested in this sort of stuff ... which I am. :)

The DHS Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report (Daily Report) is collected each week day as a summary of open-source published information concerning significant critical infrastructure issues. This PDF report provides details by key section and has information from leading news media.

Visit to check out the daily report.