Friday, September 2, 2011

FAIRFAX COUNTY ANNOUNCES COMPREHENSIVE CHANGES TO THEIR COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM (CERT) PROGRAM

1 September 2011
Fairfax County CERT




FAIRFAX COUNTY ANNOUNCES COMPREHENSIVE CHANGES TO THEIR COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM (CERT) PROGRAMFairfax County officials announced the establishment of a CERT steering committee and the formation of localized CERT teams. The boundaries of operation as set for each team will be based upon major highway divisions within Fairfax County, i.e. North Team (North of Dulles Toll Road to Beltway).
Fairfax County CERT was formed in 2003 and is sponsored and overseen by the Office of Emergency Management and the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. CERT, a national program implemented in Fairfax County, is completely funded by FEMA and State grants. CERT trains Fairfax County resident volunteers to help themselves, their families, and local communities in times of wide-spread disaster when professional first responders will be significantly delayed in providing assistance. Currently there are over 600 trained CERT members within Fairfax County.
The CERT steering committee was formed due to increased demand for outreach venues and operational requests. Additionally, Fairfax County CERT has grown exponentially in the past 4 years, resulting in the need for more operational structure. The committee is organized to align with the federally mandated National Incident Management System or NIMS. The committee allows the CERT members to take a greater role in the operations of the program. However, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department retains the functional oversight of the CERT program.
Under the existing system, CERT members may not know if there are other CERT trained citizens in their neighborhood. These localized CERT teams will be able to familiarize with their particular circumstances’ in their neighborhood and train together for the benefit of their communities. Accordingly, these communities will become familiar and aware of CERT resources before a major disaster impacts this region.
People who have taken CERT training are better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of a disaster whether natural or manmade. Trained individuals and teams are ready to:
1. Help themselves, family and friends with immediate assistance in their neighborhoods
2. Organize spontaneous, untrained volunteers to provide needed services.
3. Collect disaster intelligence to assist professional responders who are trying to allocate limited resources.
CERT teams do not replace first responders; they are a resource until first responders arrive.
Fairfax County CERT continues to prepare citizens through training. For information on scheduling classes for your community, training and more, please visit the official Fairfax County CERT page at www.fairfaxcert.com or, contact the Fire and Rescue Department Volunteer Liaison's Office at 703-246-4683, TTY 711.
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