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Are You Ready for the Worst?

Braddock District hosts an Emergency Preparedness Clinic on Tuesday at Kings Park Library.

With Northern Virginia surviving Hurricane Isabel last fall and facing the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne this September, residents in the Braddock District should've gotten the message: It's good to be prepared for the worst.

For that reason, Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock) is hosting an Emergency Preparedness clinic on Tuesday, Oct. 19, from 7:30-9:30 p.m., in the meeting room of the Kings Park Library in Burke.

The goal, according to Bulova, is to provide a "hands-on" workshop for a number of facets of personal and community emergency response.

"People will learn about the efforts under way by volunteer corps, and what opportunities there might be," said Bulova.

During the two-hour clinic, representatives from the Red Cross will help participants with a number of home-based preparations for disasters of any kind, including creating a kit to help with the first 72 hours of any local or regional emergency, and creating a communication plan for families and communities.

"We're always encouraging county residents to be prepared, but … we will tell them how to be prepared," said Bulova. September was Emergency Preparedness Month in Fairfax County, and this workshop will follow up on that effort for the Braddock District residents.

"We want to give people some concrete information about what to put in their emergency kits, and what kinds of disasters to prepare for," said Colin Campbell, Bulova's chief of staff. Campbell along with other members of the Canterbury Woods Community Association underwent training to become a certified Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

THE CERT program, which originated in California in the early 1980s in response to several earthquakes, provides training for citizens to operate in the absence of first-responders like fire and rescue personnel.

"The bottom line for us is that the CERT team becomes the civilian arm of the Fire and Rescue workers," said Robert Mizer, coordinator of the CERT program for Fairfax County Fire and Rescue. Mizer will give a presentation at the clinic about how communities can go about becoming CERT personnel.

"We’re trained to mobilize and go out and assess the situation in the community, do triage, take people back to the treatment area and do basic first aid," said Campbell, whose community became the first in Fairfax County to have its association certified.

"Basically, [we] act as an extension of the fire company that comes into our neighborhood."

This kind of training is important, said Mizer, not just in large-scale disasters, but in other natural disasters, like hurricanes and tornadoes.

"In a disaster of any kind, people want to help, and they look to leadership. If the CERT members are there, people look and say there's somebody who is in charge, and they can organize the spontaneous volunteers," said Mizer.

In addition to CERT, representatives from the Fairfax County Citizen Corps Council, which oversees the Neighborhood Watch; Volunteers in Police Service; and Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps will provide demonstrations and examples of their equipment.

"This will be a great learning experience," said Bulova.