Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our CERT victims-a victim's perspective

Hi folks,
I wanted to pass this article on to you. This article appears in a local sorority newsletter; and was written by a victim from the July 19th Herndon HS mass casualty drill. In this drill, CERT members and others invited by CERT participated as victims for the fire and rescue department. This person clearly had a positive experience through playing victim; they gained new perspectives on response operations, CERT and disasters in general.
Our CERT victim actor coordinator, Kevin from CERT 20 works really hard to get victim actors for a variety of exercises and drills. He's the one there an hour before a drill starts to ensure everything is "just right." During the drill or exercise, he's a bouncing rubber ball; going back and forth to ensure victims are safe, comfortable and accounted for. Through his efforts, these three sorority sisters had a great time, learned things and are looking at taking CERT training.
If you see Kevin, give him a big "attaboy!" for his efforts. You rock, Kevin.
your volunteer PIO

It started out like any social would. Our sisters Kiki, Tracie, Betsy, Janet, and legacy Crystal were at a high school football game. Our team had just made a touch down, and then tragedy struck—literally. A man lost control of his car while driving his son to the game, running into the bleachers and scattering injured fans everywhere. Kiki and Tracie were no where to be found. Janet was frantically searching for her daughter Crystal. Meanwhile Betsy was trapped under the rubble with a head injury, a broken leg, and broken ribs that made every breath and moan painful.

Welcome to a Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Disaster Drill. Your sorority Sisters are fine. For some of us, this was our second drill, and we are looking forward to many more in the future.

Emergency "First Responders" need to have practice in case there ever is a terrible disaster, like our scenario. They utilize "citizen actors" to come out in their most beat up clothes to be "moulaged"—made up to have ghastly looking fake injuries with the aid of fake blood, putty, some duct tape (seriously!), and props.

The only real requirements for a "citizen actor" are to be able to follow directions, tolerate being outside in heat, cold, rain, or snow, and to be able to ham it up to simulate a victim in a real disaster. Children over the age of 9 are welcome to join in as long as they have a parent or other suitable chaperone with them.

It's like going to a horror movie in that you get caught up in the drama in it, knowing all along that you are actually safe. We were coached ahead of time on what to expect, and there were non-drill participants constantly checking on us.

The service part of being a "citizen actor" is apparent—"first responders" need to have practice, and there isn't any way they can get it without living, sometimes screaming, people on which to simulate rescues. What may be less apparent are the valuable things that the "citizen actors" get back. The drill is a lot of fun—sisters will be comparing stories for some time to come. It is an opportunity to get to know first responders who may some day be helping you out in an emergency. Maybe the most important thing is getting a sense of what will happen in case of a real disaster—for instance, did you know that when you are screaming in fear and pain that first responders will not stop to comfort you? They will pass you by and attend to someone who is unconscious. After all, if you can scream, you are obviously breathing.

You too can join in the fun and the "give back" to your community. All you have to do is send an email to Kevin at and he will let you know when and where the next drill will be. Better yet, consider taking the CERT (community emergency response teams) training. CERT members are citizens like you and your sorority sisters who are prepared to be first responders in the event of a massive community disaster when fire and rescue personnel would be overwhelmed. Several are considering taking this training. Why don't you join us?