Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fairfax County CERTs Train for Trains at WMATA-CERT Exercise

[Editor's note: Earlier this year, Fairfax County CERTs attended training classes held by the Washington, D.C. Metro Transit Police, under a program that teaches CERTs how, in event of emergency, to help themselves and their fellow transit riders until first responders arrive.

On Saturday, June 14, those students underwent a training exercise designed to test their new knowledge. Carlos Santiso, Fairfax County CERT Class 74, shares his photos and account of the training.]

The WMATA-CERT Exercise is part of the training provided by the Metro Transit Police to CERT members. The class training previous to this exercise teaches us how to react to emergencies ranging from rail safety to identification of terrorist activity.

Fairfax County CERTs during the pre-exercise briefing. All photos by Carlos Santiso.
This exercise is the culmination of the training and consists of a classroom presentation/briefing and two drills.

A view of "The Rollover Rig."
The first drill takes place on a "derailed" train car where its inclination can be changed at will by the trainers.

Rings around the train car allow the inclination to be controlled by trainers.

The exercise asks for the rescue of victims (mannequins) inside the car, with the challenge of extricating them while fighting the steep incline of the vehicle.

The incline adds to the challenge of maneuvering a mannequin between seats.
The other exercise is performed in a "tunnel simulator" where two Metro cars have suffered an accident. While looking for victims (actors) and checking out for hazards, the challenges are the damage suffered by the cars, the dark environment, and the smoke in the tunnel.

Students in the dark, smoky tunnel simulator.
According the Metro Police, there is no other facility like this one in the U.S.

Participants in the drills were CERT teams from Fairfax County; Arlington County; the City of Alexandria; Washington, DC; and Montgomery County, Maryland.

CERTs from multiple area jurisdictions participated in the exercise.
A difference to note: Although we used our hardhats, vests, and gloves, we were asked not to use our backpacks. The reason was to pretend we were there just on a normal day's commute when the tragedy happened. The only tool we were to use was our knowledge.

This is a unique opportunity to increase our level of preparedness (and it’s fun too!)

Fairfax County CERTs pose in front of the rollover simulator.
If you didn't take it yet, don’t miss the next one!

[See more photos from this and other exercises on the Fairfax County CERT Facebook page. The next WMATA training class for Fairfax County CERTs is tentatively scheduled for September 2014. To take the free training course, you must have completed CERT training, be an active CERT and Metro rider, and be a U.S. citizen over 18. For more information about this and other CERT training opportunities, visit volunteer.fairfaxcounty.gov and search for "CERT". ]


Carlos Santiso is a Communications Coordinator for Fairfax County CERT and member of various CERT teams in the region. You can email him at radio@fairfaxcountycert.org.

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