Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fairfax County CERT, Neighborhood Watch and "PIO for an evening"-A new partnership

Hi folks!
Someone posted on the blog recently, saying that "things had gotten quiet" after Celebrate Fairfax. Well, behind the scenes CERT has been anything BUT quiet. Derek, Mike and Steve have been very busy; as your volunteer public information officer I get to be the one to tell you about it.

Fairfax County CERT has a new partnership with VIPS (Volunteers in Police Service) / Neighborhood Watch, two of our fellow Citizen Corps organizations. Both of these organizations work within their neighborhoods, just like CERT. If you want more information on these great programs, check out the website. (While your'e there, check out the event calendar. Fairfax County CERT is listed ALL over it........)
Here are the main points of this new partnership.

Neighborhood watch personnel will be coming to speak to our CERT classes, including the September refresher classes. They will be coming out to tell us about their program, and will teach us how to set up and run effective neighborhood watch programs within our own communities.
To reciprocate, CERT's will be doing presentations on OUR program at the neighborhood watch training sessions. These are held quarterly by Fairfax County police department personnel.
By doing this, we teach them about our program, and they teach us about theirs. Both CERT and neighborhood watch can benefit from this training; in an emergency we can work together more effectively within our communities.

It's always exciting to partner with organizations for a common goal; and CERT has a unique opportunity to cement this relationship. Have you ever heard of the National Night out? Here is some info from the website for you.

What is National Night Out?

It's America's Night Out Against Crime!

The "25th Annual National Night Out" (NNO), a unique crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 5, 2008 from 4pm to 9pm.

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT is designed to:

  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs;
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships through organized events like cookouts, street parties; and to
  • Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
This is important stuff, folks.....and Fairfax County CERT has been asked to promote the CERT program on National Night Out in every supervisory district within the county!

We have been asked by the police department to provide a LARGE number (20+) of CERT's who can help. Specifically, we will need TWO or MORE CERT's per police district who can ride along with county police officers to the National Night out events scheduled within each district.

Here is how this event will work. When you arrive at these events (which could be a pool party, a cookout, etc) you will have a chance to speak to the crowds about the CERT program, socialize,"hang out and be hip"; hand out disaster preparedness information and CERT "freebies" . You'll be at one event for 30 minutes or so, hop in the patrol car with your police officer escort and go on to the next event. National Night Out runs from 4pm to 9pm, so you could conceivably go to 5 or 6 different events.

I keep saying "you" because we need YOUR help to make this happen. We need 20 or more CERT's to participate. The participating CERT's will be CERT public information officers for the event; this is a highly publicised national program, hugely! important to the community,and we can generate MANY new members from it. We can also educate our neighbors on the benefits of emergency/disaster preparedness in their own neighborhoods as well.
I want people who can comfortably (and competently) talk about the CERT program; people who feel comfortable talking to groups; people who enjoy socializing with others; people who can smile!while presenting our CERT program to others with the utmost in professionalism.
Folks, presenting a positive "message" to others about the program you represent is one of the most important, hardest yet most rewarding tasks of a PIO. Each CERT who participates will be the "face" of Fairfax County CERT that evening; to the people you meet, you WILL be CERT to them. This is an important task folks.....
FYI-Before the event takes place, I will ask that we have a meeting beforehand to go over CERT "talking points"; some tips on dealing with the public and to give you a box of "freebies". Each CERT working National Night out will be issued a box containing emergency preparedness handouts and freebies for giveaways.
If you want to participate; please email me with your name, and your CERT class. Send the email to and put "national night out-pio for an evening" in the subject line. I hope to see lots and LOTS of CERT's help.

It may have been quiet for a little while; we were just catching our breath.........

your volunteer PIO

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