|CERT trainers prepare for a simulated disaster exercise. [Joe Loong]|
CERT training prepares residents to deal with emergencies – like severe weather disasters or terrorism, with the possibility of road closures, destruction of buildings, power outages, flooding, and injuries – so they can help their families and neighborhoods if first responders are delayed. In a catastrophic event, 911 could be overwhelmed and unreachable.
The free training sessions are taught by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department personnel and CERT volunteer instructors. The training combines 25 hours of classroom learning with hands-on training, covering such skills as disaster preparedness, light search and rescue techniques, disaster medicine, fire suppression, and lifting and cribbing.
At the end of training, CERT volunteers put all their new skills to use responding to a simulated disaster in a realistic, half-day field training exercise.
People 18 or older who live, work, worship, or spend significant time in Fairfax County are eligible for CERT training. Students of all abilities are welcome to participate.
The Fire and Rescue Department will send CERT instructors to any group – such as a neighborhood association, homeowners association, religious institution, workplace, or community organization – that can bring together at least 12 people interested in CERT training and can provide somewhere to train, such as clubhouse or community room.
CERT training not only doesn’t cost anything, CERT students are given a backpack filled with disaster response and personal protective equipment, including a helmet, reflective vest, pry tool, and headlamp, worth nearly $90. Students are asked to provide some personal items, such as gloves and bandaging material.
The CERT class being organized by residents of an Annandale neighborhood could start as early as July or August.
So far, 16 people are interested in joining the Annandale group. The group is in the process of selecting a day and time that works for most people. But the schedule won’t work for everyone, which means there will be space for additional people. The optimal size for a CERT class is 20.
People interested in joining the group, should take an online survey with their schedule preferences.