Letter: Train To Help In Emergencies

Letter: Train To Help In Emergencies

CERT teams in training.

CERT teams in training. Photo Contributed

To the Editor:

The National Capital Region’s 3rd annual Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Convention, hosted by the Fairfax County CERT Team, will take place June 28-29 at the Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Campus.

CERTCon 2013 is a two-day seminar/functional exercise that offers training, networking and sharing of best practices to CERT members in the National Capital Region.

Saturday, June 29, will feature a lecture series from practicing professionals in the fields of emergency management, public health preparedness, and disaster psychology. The speakers are drawn from a variety of organizations and agencies, including FEMA, NOAA, Virginia Task Force-1 (TF-1), and the National Association for Search & Rescue. Topics will include Stress and Trauma Management for First Responders, Pet First Aid, WMD & IED threat picture, Communications during a disaster, People with disabilities and disasters, Search and Rescue, Wilderness First Aid, Hazmat, and how to conduct Windshield Surveys.

Sunday, June 30, will feature a hands-on drill at the former Lorton reformatory which is now used as a disaster training site. This exercise will give the participants an opportunity to sharpen and advance their skills and work together as a multijurisdictional team.

CERT members go through 36 hours of training at their local Fire and Rescue academies. Training provides a basic understanding of fire suppression, search and rescue, disaster medical operations and team organization.

The CERT program began in 1985 in Los Angeles, Calif., after recognizing that large-scale disasters overwhelmed emergency response teams. Through FEMA grants to local jurisdictions civilians are trained to respond to emergencies or assist emergency responders arriving on the scene. All training and equipment is provided free of charge to the CERT participant.

This year CERTCon 2013 will host teams from Alexandria, Fairfax County and Fairfax City, Arlington, Manassas and Manassas Park and Prince William County. Montgomery County and Prince George County team members will be attending and other Maryland CERTs as far away as Baltimore are expected. The District of Columbia is sending representatives from their team in addition to Georgetown University, American University and Gallaudet University CERT team members.

If you are interested in participating at CERTCon as an actor victim or a rescuer, visit http://certcon2013.eventbrite.com, to register.

To contact any of the Fairfax County CERT leadership, send the email directly to fire.CERT@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Mike Piccione

Fairfax County CERT team