Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fairfax County CERT assists at Celebrate Fairfax

Hi folks!
It is good to hear of the Herndon/Reston CERT teams assistance with the Herndon festival last weekend. GREAT JOB, FOLKS!!!!!!!
CERT was asked to assist at the Celebrate Fairfax event this past weekend, too. Celebrate Fairfax was held on the grounds of the Fairfax County government center.The CERT portion of this event/"incident" ran Friday 6-9pm, Saturday 9am to 9pm and Sunday 9am to 6pm.
We helped the county fire and rescue department with two seperate functions; running the child registration booths on the event grounds and running "interference" for EMS teams when sent out to assist the injured. There were three lost child registration stations on site. In addition to this, CERT had a booth set up in the county expo area; using our new CERT "wall" display (thank you Patty G!) with all new graphics (thank you Denise H.!). We also had our first ever "freebies"-LED crank flashlights that need no batteries (THANK YOU!!! Jeffrey Katz, our county fire and rescue dept.volunteer coordinator).
In effect; this weekend we did outreach on two unique and distinctly different levels-informational,"static" outreach through efforts at the CERT booth; and "operational outreach"-by showing the community CERT teams in action.

The child registration booths were extremely popular this weekend; for those unfamiliar with the concept here is a short explanation of how they worked. A parent would come up and give us the child's name and age, their cell number; and their own name. A small sticker was then placed on the child's back. This sticker had information on whether the child had allergies, if they could have a snack if found, etc. There were no names on the sticker; just a unique number assigned just for the child. No names were used on the tickets for security purposes. The parent was given a small sticker with the same number.
We then told each child to tell a fireman or policeman if they were lost or seperated from their parents. The FD/ police personnel would then escort the child to the "lost parents" booth and call the parents so they could come and get them. The parent shows their sticker to the people in the lost parent booth; if they matched the parent was quickly reunited with their child. (Just think, a valet ticket to reclaim their little ones, what a simple and smart idea!)
Parents registered their children ALL WEEKEND; the parents were 1000% happy with the quick signup process and the safety aspects of the stations. Lots of them asked about the CERT program; so I got some of the CERT " business cards and placed them in the booths. The parents had their hands full with little ones so this was the easiest way to get them interested in CERT.

We also assisted with EMS calls for assistance; by helping keep the crowds back and ensuring the EMS crews had plenty of room to work in. Folks, it was dangerously!! hot this weekend, with the heat and humidity coming up so quickly nobody had a chance to acclimatize to it. This resulted in lots and lots of heat related injuries. This was interesting work; and it helped the EMS people to get the victim to medical care quickly.
During the fire dept. official briefings we were also asked to be on the lookout for potential medical problems among the people in the crowd (the fire dept. called these folks "LLS"-for people who "looked like, well, "stuff"...:). These were the folks not sweating; looking tired,red faced, hot, dizzy and not altogether mentally "there"....IE, potential heat stroke/heat exhaustion cases. We were asked to spot these people and engage them. In effect, we were trying to help these folks before they got worse.
"Hey neighbor, you look a little warm; come and sit down in the aid station for a minute, here's some nice cool water, enjoy the fan for a little while.Enjoying the fair? Let's just sit and chat". Cool them down, get some fluids in them and send them on their way. Folks, this was "neighbor helping neighbor" at it's finest and we all did this throughout the weekend.

Each CERT who helped at Celebrate Fairfax stayed longer than their assigned shifts;because we were needed. Their devotion to duty is commendable. The fire and rescue department welcomed us, included us in their official briefings each morning; fed us well; treated us like rock stars!!! and we worked side by side, together, all weekend.Here's the CERT "Celebrate Fairfax crew". Job well done, folks...

Judy H.
Robin V.
Marco J.
Jack L.
Susy L.
Bob from CERT 29
Patty G.
Kevin M.
Sharon A. (my missus; our CERT "runner")

It was hot, it was a long! weekend but each of us got to participate in this event as an integral part of the county fire and rescue response efforts. We were all hot tired and sweaty; but I think I can say we were all excited to be a part of it.
CERT in two weeks, in two seperate events have been used operationally. We have had VERY positive feedback from both events; and we hope to be able to do it again.
Taking community outreach into new and exciting directions,

your volunteer PIO

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