|CERT students assess a "victim" during a training exercise.|
Are you prepared for a hurricane, earthquake, flood, or other major disaster? Do you want to help your community during an emergency?
If that sounds like something you’d like to do, sign up for free Fairfax County Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes starting Saturday, Aug. 1. The eight-session program will meet at the Capital Baptist Church on Gallows Road in Annandale on Saturdays, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
The classes cover disaster preparedness, disaster psychology, how to organize assistance, first aid, setting up a triage system, search and rescue, how to use a fire extinguisher, and how to deal with terrorism. The classes end with a two-hour simulated emergency, complete with people pretending to be disaster victims.
“People start out not knowing anything about disaster preparedness,” Sobecke says. “After eight classes they are surprised to realize they can handle almost anything.”
About 2,000 people have been through CERT training in Fairfax County in the last 10 years, he says. The upcoming class in Annandale is the county’s 99th CERT training course.
Sobecke is forming teams of people who’ve received the training within the same zip code, so CERT volunteers can connect with one another. Special training will be offered to CERT teams.
He is also developing a new program to train CERT volunteers to conduct community assessments after a storm or other emergency. They will learn how to canvass their neighborhood for problems like downed trees and damaged buildings and submit a report to the county emergency operations center.