Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Some CERT "stuff" and event info for you.....

Hi folks!
I want to wish each and every one of you a happy, healthy and safe 2008. I want to start the year off right with some information to pass along to you.
Below are some snippets from the current EM update put out weekly by the folks at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. You can access their website at . There's LOTS of preparedness info available there; in addition you can sign up for weekly email updates. The stories below are from this weeks' edition.
FEMA is now offering online subscriptions to updates and info on their various programs; in addition to news releases and disaster declarations. The neat thing is that you can have these sent by email; in addition you can have alerts sent as text messages to a PDA phone as well.
The second story concerns the state of Virginia's emergency operation plan, which has just been updated. It is viewable at the link below. Volunteers and the management of disaster volunteers has now been added to the state's plans. The last story concerns some disaster response and mitigation related bills that will be introduced during the Virginia General Assembly this session; which looks pretty interesting.
CERT from the volunteer public info officer side of things so far is starting off rather nicely. It may be January, but people and groups are still VERY interested in the CERT program and message. The calendar below looks a bit sparse perhaps; but don't worry. I can guarantee it will fill up very quickly!
Actually, we already have two community outreach events scheduled. The first one is tonight at the Kirkwood Presbyterian Church in Springfield. Kevin Mullins of CERT 20 and I are going to be "talking CERT" to the Boy Scout troop at the church this evening from 7:30pm to 9:00 pm.
The second event is on Febuary 2nd; this is the Mount Vernon District 21st annual town meeting. This event will be held from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm at Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria. We'll have the CERT info booth set up there, we'll explain what the CERT program is about to the attendees and have disaster prep information handouts for them as well . I'd like to "start the CERT year out right" and have a highly visible presence for this event. There are currently few trained CERT's in the south end of the county and it would be GREAT if we could get more there. Would you like to come out and "talk CERT" to the community? If you would, let me know! Just drop an email to me at and lets' show the Mount Vernon community what "more rock less talk" REALLY means!
Do you have a homeowner's association, neighborhood watch group, church group or organisation that might be interested in hearing about the CERT program? If you do; let me know! Just email me with a time and a date; CERT will be there. "Have display and handouts, will travel" :)

your volunteer PIO
FEMA offers electronic news updates
The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers an online subscription to news updates, including information about disaster declarations, mitigation programs, the National Incident Management System and the National Response Framework, as well as regional news releases. In addition to an e-mail inbox, news updates can also go to wireless devices, or users can subscribe to an RSS feed. Register at

Updated state Emergency Operations Plan
Gov. Tim Kaine has approved the updated Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan with Executive Order 60. The 2007 updated plan:

  • Embraces National Incident Management System and National Response Framework concepts and principles
  • Places the response plan and the recovery plan in the same document to ensure seamless operational response to any hazard
  • Incorporates and revises the annexes for 17 emergency support functions, which are groups of the most frequently used operations in emergency response
  • Includes a pet evacuation and sheltering component that fulfills legislation from the 2007 session of the General Assembly
  • Upgrades the Family Assistance Plan component, which outlines how the Commonwealth will provide assistance to disaster victims

The new plan also includes a Mass Evacuation and Sheltering Plan and two new emergency support functions: Military Support (ESF 16) and Volunteer and Donations Management (ESF 17).

The COVEOP is updated at least every four years or as needed. The plan is available online at

New disaster laws under consideration
Several bills that could impact emergency preparedness and response will be considered during the 60-day session of the 2008 General Assembly. Bill summaries, along with status and links to the General Assembly Web site, are available online at

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