Friday, July 8, 2011

Greetings from the new guy, CERT is looking for eager volunteers

Hi folks!

By now you have seen the email in your inbox labelled "new CERT structure". You read it and it piqued your interest, I'm sure. Well, it's going to get even more interesting. And exciting!

By the way, for those who don't know me-I'm Terry. I'm a graduate of CERT 14, and had the honor of being Fairfax County CERT's first volunteer PIO. I got to serve for 3 years in this (at the time) new and (definitely!!) exciting position,and I got to watch the program grow like a flower. But, work got in the way and I "retired" in March of last year to pursue business interests.(IE after a year of being laid off, then suffering for a while in a lousy hourly job I got a good job again.......) I was asked to come back recently to help move our program to the next level.
As your CERT volunteer coordinator, I'm basically your new CERT "chief cook and bottlewasher". I am the person who receives requests from the fire and rescue department (FRD) Office of the Volunteer Liaison and our CERT trainers Mike, Steve and Rich. My job is to disseminate the various requests to the appropriate CERT task coordinator. I get to monitor, mentor, manage and ultimately approve the task or activity results or plan accomplished by the task coordinators. Then I run the results of that activity to the FRD and CERT trainers for final approval. In effect, I'm your connection between the volunteer CERT coordinators (and the CERT membership) and FRD entities, as well as the CERT trainers.

The next level of CERT involves a few different aims and goals, as you can see below.

1. To build a cadre of volunteer CERTs that will help make and implement decisions to make our program better. This cadre is the CERT commission; you got a copy of the coordinator job descriptions in the announcement email. These coordinators are tasked to manage various aspects of the program, with fire department guidance. These coordinators are experienced CERT members; they "know the ropes" and will help lead the program to greater heights. They are good at what they do!

2. To develop usable, useful, semi autonomous CERT teams in Fairfax County. The initial planning for the teams has already started, our teams coordinator Susy, her assistant Bob and the teams section chief Jack have come up with a geographical layout for teams in the county. This team layout works well for both emergency and non emergency CERT team duties. Attached is a copy of the map for proposed team areas. The teams will operate in your communities, folks; in both non emergency and emergency functions as needed.

3. To develop the structure and leadership for each team within the county. Our CERT teams section chief and I, along with the fire department volunteer coordinator and CERT trainers will be working on this. Ever thought about leading a CERT team; not just in drills but in real life? When the requirements are done, we will be advertising for team leaders.

4. To have a "go to" person for each function relating to teams in the county-this is your CERT commission. Each coordinator is a leader, and knows the duties of their job functions well. Each one can be a valuable source of advice and help to each team, and each team member.

5. To build the presence of CERT in Fairfax County. We all know the CERT program rocks!! Now it's time to show others just how well we "rock". Through outreach, action and activities.

6. To do more stuff! CERT is a valuable resource of trained people within Fairfax County. We can help with many different operational duties within our team boundaries. Not just setting up a CERT booth and talking CERT-how about helping with traffic at local events within your team area? Or running first aid tent duties? Running safety patrols? Or delivering doctors and nurses to hospitals when snow has made a mess of the roads? CERT IS going to "do more stuff".

7. The most important thing-to CERT train as many people as we possibly can. We have all been through the training; we know just how valuable it is. We want to be able to offer even MORE people CERT training. Look for opportunities to take CERT train the trainer courses so you can become a CERT basic trainer; come out and help at the academy classes. Remember, each person we CERT train is one less helpless victim in a disaster..........

As your CERT volunteer coordinator I promise to work day and night to achieve these goals. Our program is great and getting greater! But you know we can't do it without your help, your advice, your suggestions. Your feedback is important; CERT is YOUR program. Have an idea, have some advice; got a great suggestion? Send it to me at and I'll make sure it gets to the right coordinator. We're open-open for the business of emergency preparedness and open to new ideas!

Finally, we're looking for CERT members to fill a few vacancies in the CERT commission structure. These positions are unpaid, purely volunteer positions. These slots are open to CERT basic and CERT 2 class graduates; experience in the role is not necessary. Drive, tenacity, willingness to learn and lead; and the desire to make Fairfax County CERT the best program in the state and the country IS required........... If you want to get in on the ground floor of helping lead our CERT program, this is a perfect opportunity to learn and grow in (and with)the program.

We're looking for people in the following roles:

Assistant Operational role event coordinator
Assistant Outreach Coordinator
Assistant volunteer PIO
Assistant CERT Teams section chief
(The Teams section chief in the email that went out shows it as an open position. This is incorrect; this position has been filled by Jack from CERT 4)

Interested? Please contact us at with your name, position desired, your CERT class number and tell us a bit about yourself. Tell us about the contribution you would like to help make to the program! We'll get your "resume" to the appropriate coordinator and go from there.

Folks, Fairfax County CERT is a great program. We have grown to the point of taking CERT to a new level of professionalism, expertise and ability. We have the opportuntity, Through all of our efforts we can make this program grow even larger!


Fairfax County CERT
CERT volunteer coordinator