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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Disaster preparedness training class starts Aug. 1 in Annandale

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.

Twelve people have registered, which is the minimum number needed for a class, so there are spaces available for people who sign up at the last minute, says the instructor, James Sobecke, volunteer training coordinator with the Fire and Rescue Department. If you’d like to participate, email Sobecke at
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.

1 comment:

  1. Volunteers needed to pretend to be victims for our FEMA Community Emergency Response Team 99 class for Saturday August 22 and/or 29t, 2015

    The more the merrier. Come even if we run out of slots on this sign up form. We can never have too many of you.