Wednesday, October 29, 2008

CERT ROCKS! At the Capital Shield exercise!

Hi folks!
On Monday, October 27th a number of CERT members participated in the National Capitol Region's Capitol Shield exercise. This is a yearly exercise in which local, state, and federal disaster response teams coordinate in a simulated, challenging and resource intensive disaster response effort.
CERT members participated initially as victims of a large scale disaster. Our day started at 5:30 am with check in to the site and moulage. Susy did her usual excellent job at making us all look ghoulish. We looked like refugees from a Halloween party once this was done.
We were then placed about the disaster scene. Susan looked really hurt,Cheryl and Cindy looked pretty "chewed up" too. Johnathan was lounging against a building battered, fluid leaking out of his ears. Woody,Bob,the other Bob,Henri and Jim just looked WAY messed up! Patty and Judy looked comfy in the drainage ditch,bruised and battered, reading their books. Sandra enjoyed being in a concrete culvert,with a massive "black eye". Brian looked great! with his guts hanging out. Eydie was just having a great time, lying bloodied on the sidewalk.
The responders came and triaged each of us,collected the wounded (worst first)and put us in the back of an ambulance for the ride to the casualty collection point. When we got there, we got triaged and were given nice white blankets for warmth (which weren't so white when we finished with them).
We took a break, one of the agencies there was kind enough to give us the use of a 15 passenger van to warm up in. We had some snacks, some water and a good time.
After this, we went back the building where our gear was stored and "geared up" for the next part of the exercise. We were told that Fairfax County CERT was called up to help in the disaster response!
Derek assigned our own CERT trainer Jim as the IC, Jim picked me to be accountability. The rest of us were broken into teams of two. Jim and I then reported to the command post for the incident. Jim told the IC of our capabilities as CERT members, and our willingness to help.We were given a briefing of the situation, told what our objectives were. We were to conduct a secondary search of a number of buildings on the property, pull out victims as we found them; then transport them to the casualty collection point. We were to report back to command when we had finished searching each building; noting any areas within the buildings (or buildings themselves) not searched. The overall command of the disaster response was the DC fire department. We were assigned the team name "CERT 400" and issued radios.
We went back to the assembled CERT team, briefed them on the task at hand and began the search in buildings closest to the center of the disaster. Folks, this was the first time EVER that Fairfax County CERT has been integrated into a multi agency, multiple jurisdiction disaster response operation. We were not "CERT volunteers" Monday-we were counted (and counted on) as a disaster response asset! This was a red letter day in Fairfax County CERT history.........................we weren't just "volunteers"-we were responders!
Folks, CERT 400 had a large area to search, with 8 seperate buildings within our area of responsibility. These consisted of large single story buildings with multiple rooms,some multi level structures, and a trailer or two. These weren't like searching in the burn building or high bay, folks! But, they were marked when teams entered, proper building searches were conducted, and each team marked themselves "out" of the buildings. The teams then reported back to CERT IC for reassignment. Some teams were pulled "out of service" for a rehab/rest period, and teams were rotated as necessary. We had a large area to search, and a lot of large buildings too. A rest period in operations like this was a must!
Several buildings were well out of our capability to search as CERT trained members, due to collapsed roofs, gas boilers,etc. The hazards in some of these buildings were real-real partially collapsed roofs, etc. This info was relayed back to the incident command post, professional responders would conduct a follow up search in those areas not accesible to CERT.
In one of the last buildings searched, two trapped victims were discovered. The CERT teams used leveraging and cribbing to extricate these victims, then carried them 1/4 mile to the triage area (although to the teams it might have seemed like carrying those victims 10 miles...it was very cold,windy and raining while the teams were doing this folks.)
Once the victims were in triage, and once all buildings within our area were searched/cleared/marked, our part of the exercise was over. We called the incident IC and reported "All buildings searched". We got back a "CERT 400, stand down. Job well done" from the DC fire IC .
We sat in the triage area and did a debrief of our activity, and Fairfax County CERT's part in Capitol Shield was over with. We were then given a tour of some of the areas where the professional responders were working their part of the exercise; we saw some VERY impressive operations going on folks!
That was CERT's day at Capitol Shield. It was a long day, but one filled with a lot of excitement and pride! Here's a list of those who participated in Capitol Shield; thank you all for participating and helping make a bit of Fairfax County CERT history!

Derek-who made it ALL possible.
our CERT trainer Jack-controller-he did a LOT of behind the scenes work to make this happen!
our victim actor coordinator Kevin-Made the victim part of the exercise a breeze!
our CERT trainer Susy-our moulage artiste' and controller for the morning!
Sandra from CERT 34-enjoying her first stint as victim!

The CERT 400 team
our CERT trainer Jim-IC
your volunteer PIO Terry-accountability
Team 1
Judy from CERT 29
Cheryl from CERT 31

Team 2
Richard from CERT 29
Henri from CERT 14

Team 3
Jonathan from CERT 29
Susan from CERT 29

Team 4
Brian from CERT 31
Eydie from CERT 23

Team 5
Patty from CERT 19
Kevin,our actor victim coordinator from CERT 20

Team 6
Cindy from CERT 32
Bob from CERT 29
Bob G from CERT 22


Thanks to all for an exciting day!

Terry
your volunteer PIO