Friday, October 8, 2010

National Fire Safety Week

Members of Fairfax County CERT were at FEMA Headquarters as part of the National Kickoff for Fire Safety Week.

Here is a video of the FEMA Administrator taken during the event:!/video/video.php?v=131960896854421

Also don't forget to check out the Citizen Corps Volunteers facebook page at for additional tips.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What do Project Runway, Home Depot Tarp and CERT have in common?

Fairfax County CERT had an exhibit at the Capital Home Show (September 24-26 in Dulles, VA). TV's Project Runway stopped by the booth to model the dress made from a Home Depot tarp - clothes for any disaster.

Additional information about CERT at the home show can be found at

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Scanners May Be Your Only Option To Know If Help Is On The Way

In CERT, we learn "Following a major disaster, first responders who provide fire and medical services will not be able to meet the demand for these services. Factors as number of victims, communication failures, and road blockages will prevent people from accessing emergency services they have come to expect at a moment's notice through 911. People will have to rely on each other for help in order to meet their immediate life saving and life sustaining needs." (

You call 911 and you are unable to get through. How do you know if help is arriving and how bad is the situation?

One option is to find your local emergency agency on a scanner. The following website provides live feeds from across the country.

For additional tips, visit

Saturday, August 28, 2010

National Preparedness Month - Volunteer Mobilization Exercise

Volunteers Needed: Emergency Preparedness Exercise

Individuals are needed Saturday, September 25, 2010 to act as mock emergency volunteers.

Volunteer Fairfax, the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management, and the Fairfax County Health Department will be testing their Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) plans, which assign volunteers to the needs of emergency response and recovery specialists.

If you are interested in acting as an emergency volunteer for this event or would like additional information, please contact Volunteer Fairfax.

This exercise is also being done in coordination with other volunteer agencies in the region. If you are interested in participating but not local to Fairfax, please contact your local volunteer agency to see if they are participating or contact Volunteer Fairfax for a list of other participating agencies.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Our Blog and Facebook Page are a Coalition Partner are you?

Neighbors Helping Neighbors has been contacted by the FEMA Office of External Affairs to help share the "Emergency Preparedness" message on our blog for September.


I am writing to see if I can interest your blog in a topic for September – emergency preparedness.

National Preparedness Month (NPM), sponsored by FEMA’s Ready Campaign, is a national campaign during the month of September to increase emergency preparedness across the U.S. I am currently reaching out to emergency and disaster-related blogs to ask for help in encouraging Americans to take steps toward preparedness. Slightly more than half of Americans say they have taken steps toward preparedness, and your blog would be a great place to encourage the rest to get prepared.

You can find information about the Ready Campaign and National Preparedness Month at, and I can provide you with additional information or answer any of your questions. This is such an important, yet often forgotten task, not just during National Preparedness Month, but year-round. We would be delighted if your blog would consider supporting preparedness.

Thank you in advance for your support,

... on behalf of
The Ready Campaign
Office of External Affairs
Federal Emergency Management Agency"

Readers of our blog, who have their own blog and facebook page, such as should also spread this message of "Emergency Preparedness".

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fairfax County Declares September Emergency Preparedness Month

The Board of Supervisors designated September 2010 as Emergency Preparedness Month in Fairfax County.

Pictured above are staff from Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management and Citizen Corps representatives.

"Residents of Fairfax County are encouraged to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies by organizing an emergency supply kit; formulating a personal preparedness plan; becoming knowledgeable about various threats; and becoming involved in preparing their community." (Source:

In addition, "the Board of Supervisors designated Aug. 3 as National Night Out in Fairfax County. The Fairfax County Police Department sponsors National Night Out to promote the importance of community-police partnerships, neighborhood safety and public awareness of crime prevention programs."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Red Cross makes a difference at Ft. Belvoir

The American Red Cross hosted a Preparedness Kit-making event at Ft. Belvoir for military families.

Checkout the following video:

Additional discussions about National Preparedness Month can be found at

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What happened to all the volunteer coordinators?

Recently it seems like less and less volunteer newsletters and correspondence from non-profits are being received. Less communication across the board.

Communication that is received appears to be primarily through Facebook groups, with articles of national interest, not related to the local community.

Could it be the days of one-on-one communication is a thing of the past?

What could be the root to this?

Could it be the organizations are focusing more on corporations for major donations (to sustain their staff) with less focus on the volunteers?

Or could it be a lot less complicated? With the economy, we have seen many positions cut and staff turn-over (due to low salaries) at non-profits, along with a change of focus. Could it be that the non-profits can no longer afford to focus on the individual active volunteer?

Could it be that the people who were best at communication and working one-on-one with volunteers are no longer there?

Recently when trying to reach out to a volunteer coordinator, it was determined, she was no longer with the organization. When going to the website to see who the new contact was, no one was listed. You needed to re-register as a volunteer, for someone to contact you.

This does not make sense. When a staff member moves on, so do the volunteers? How can we avoid this and keep the momentum going with staff turn-over?

Solving the problem, if THERE IS a problem

The lesson here might be with a volunteer management system. Another Citizen Corps Affiliate organization has a volunteer registration system and when the staff member moved on, communication actually increased and the new staff member was very responsive to emails.

Another example, with a Citizen Corps core program where a few people moved on to other roles, that system maintained the list of volunteers, but communications has lessened. Hopes are that with National Preparedness Month just around the corner this will pick up.

In summary, good people help motivate good volunteers. When staff moves on, the volunteers shouldn't. Non-profits need to understand this is an issue.

Communication is key to sustaining the volunteer workforce. A very simple concept, but an issue that should not be overlooked.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Did Someone Say FREE Advertising?

So how can we expand outreach when our budgets are being cut? Did you know that many of the local papers offer free advertising for non-profit groups!

For example, the Washington Post Local Living Section:

"To submit an item E-mail, Mail: Volunteers, Fairfax Living, The Washington Post, 4020 University Dr., Suite 220, Fairfax, Va. 22030

Details: Items, published weekly on a space-available basis, are accepted from nonprofit groups."

To view comments on this, visit

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

CERT Celebrate's Fairfax

Did you know that CERT will have volunteers at this coming weekend's Celebrate Fairfax?

Saturday night headliner is KC and the Sunshine Band.

For additional information about CERT's role, visit the Fairfax County CERT blog.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Large Scale CERT

CERT in Fairfax County is no small feet, but neither is a major disaster.
Over 50 students participated in a CERT Final Exercise this past weekend. There were over 100 "victims" who also were volunteers in the community.
The final exercise provided extensive hands-on training to the students at the old Lorton Prison Grounds and increased awareness for all the "victims". This was the first time the final exercise was not held at the fire academy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fairfax is Ready thanks to MRC Volunteers! Is Your Community?

Community Emergency Preparedness Fairs

"The Fairfax Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and the Fairfax County Health Department’s Office of Emergency Preparedness will host a community preparedness fair called Get Ready Fairfax!

The Springfield Days family festival will be held concurrently in the mall parking lot. The goal of this family friendly event is to educate the public about the role individuals and their families play in all-hazards emergency preparedness and how to get ready!

The fair is supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - part of the Urban Area Security Initiative program." (

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Citizen Corps Releases New CERT Videos

Did you know that real CERT Volunteers were used in the recently released CERT videos?

Check out the videos filmed in the National Capital Region at:

And join the discussion with other volunteers on Facebook at:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Teen/Campus CERT Train-the-Trainer

This past weekend, Volunteer CERT Instructors in Northern Virginia completed the Teen/Campus CERT Train-the-Trainer Power Workshop.

Congratulations to the new Teen and C-CERT Instructors!

Thank you to Arlington County for hosting the training (and the creative candy dish idea, pictured above) and to VDEM for bringing the training to the area.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Now Easier To Find on Facebook

Our page can now be found on Facebook at

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Volunteers Sharing With Volunteers

Monday, April 19, 2010

Letter From ServiceNation - Our Citizens Voice Was Heard

As you know, we are hunting for the best new ideas for expanding national and community service in America.

I recently asked people like you to pitch in, and you did, in huge numbers. Reading through the many terrific responses, one suggestion really stuck out.

Andrew (Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Executive Director) from Virginia wrote, It is important to include volunteers in advisory and strategy sessions -- with some of the sessions focusing on the volunteers and what motivates them, and with less a focus in these sessions on politics and budget issues.

Andrew is absolutely right: we must harness your enthusiasm and creativity to help shape the future of national and community service.

So we're encouraging supporters like you to host and attend your own strategy meetings to map out the future of service in your own communities. These meetings are already being organized around the country -- click below to find one near you and RSVP to attend:

You can also sign up to host your own event, which can be as simple as a casual get-together with fellow volunteers, or as ambitious as you like. We'll provide you with all the materials you need to hold a productive meeting.

Click below to get started organizing your event:

The wide range of great ideas submitted over the past few weeks are proof that the future of service is very bright.

Many of you focused on the importance of teaching service in our schools, while others proposed changing the way service is funded, boosting (or limiting) government involvement in service efforts, reaching out to new communities, and much more.

These suggestions are still pouring in. They will be incorporated into the agenda for a similar
meeting we are organizing on April 21st in Washington.

Don't miss this important opportunity to make the future of service even brighter. Search for a meeting near you and sign up to attend:

Or click here to host your own meeting:

Yours in service,
Greg Propper
Executive Director

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Volunteers Provide Communications During WV Mine Explosion

Several weeks ago, we discussed volunteers being trained in the National Capital Region on ECRV 4703. The Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle, staffed by volunteers, provided vital communications during the recent mine explosion in West Virginia.

Detailed information about the response can be found on the Red Cross website.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Volunteers in the National Capital Area Complete Red Cross ECRV Training


Congratulations to the 11 volunteers who
recently completed ECRV Operator Training.
They join others who have completed
the 40 hour hands-on training program.

The American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV) is "... among the first to arrive at a disaster area, and, without benefit of ANY local infrastructure (power, landline phones, cell phones, radio towers, etc.) deploy laptops and Internet Protocol (IP) phones, all connected to the American Red Cross network (by satellite), thus providing critical email, disaster applications access, and voice communications capabilities to those who are providing the initial disaster response.

In addition, the truck contains fourteen radios, all designed to fill specific communications gaps that are likely to occur in a large disaster. The truck also carries 10 cell phones that can be issued if cell service is available, and ten handheld radios to further facilitate communications between disaster workers." ( There are currently 12 ECRVs located across the United States.

If you are interested in learning more about the ECRVs and how you can train to deploy, in the Washington DC area,visit

For other locations and additional information visit

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Recognized by Board of Supervisors

Certificate of Appreciation – "To recognize the Fairfax County Health Department, Medical Reserve Corps and appropriate representatives for the H1N1 vaccination clinics. Requested by Chairman Bulova."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trailer Leads Way to Expand CERT Training

Pictured above, at the Capital Home Show, are Jack and Suzy Ledgerwood and Andrew Levy, Volunteer CERT instructors, during the public release of the Fairfax County CERT Trailer. The trailer was purchased with the assistance of a DHS grant.

With Fairfax County being over 400 square miles, the hands on CERT program had traditionally been taught at the Fire Academy, located in the north of the county. There had been requests to teach those living in South County. CERT 1 was created and enabled people to take the CERT course in South County, however, primarily classroom based. CERT 2, a hands on course could not be taught without getting the pallets, 2x4s, and other equipment to the training locations, in other parts of the county.

The CERT trailer will enable the hands on course to be taught in other parts of the county.

Additional information about the different levels of CERT courses (CERT 1, 2, and 3) can be found at

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Crowds at Capital Home Show Prepared for Next Disaster

Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) had a display and demonstrations at the Capital Home Show.

How can you get people to come over to your booth, when the focus was not on selling home products? Take the child of one of the volunteer instructors, have her lay down on the ground (on the show floor), put on some fake blood and ...

... and see the crowds form (both adults and children look on), as CERT rescues her in a demonstration.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

VDEM Offers CERT Train-the-Trainer Courses

Are you looking for a course that will train you to teach CERT?

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) is offering the CERT Train-the-trainer course. Registration is now open.

"This course is designed to prepare participants to institute a CERT program in their communities. Organizational topics to be briefly reviewed include: program planning, funding sources, recruiting, training, supervision, team member retention and legal concerns. Topics to be covered from the CERT course will include: disaster preparedness, fire suppression, first aid, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, teaching the adult learner and terrorism awareness. There will be a variety of hands-on practical exercises for certain topics."

Additional information, and signup instructions can be found at:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fairfax County CERT Featured at Capital Home and Garden Show

The Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was "given a unique opportunity-placing a CERT display and doing extrication demonstration drills at the Capital Home & Garden Show running February 25-28th at the Dulles Expo Center" (CERT PIO).

They expect to see around 35,000 people during the event, as well as media overage. "CERT skill demonstrations every two hours."

What a great opportunity for community outreach? But where are the volunteers?

The only problem is the day before the event ONLY 4 people volunteered for this exhibit. MANY more people are needed to help make this a success.

To sign up, additional information is available on the Fairfax County CERT Blog.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

American Red Cross Urges "Shelter in Place"

Working with Local Jurisdictions as Partners in Preparedness

Fairfax, VA, 10 Feb 2010 – The American Red Cross in the National Capital Region continues to provide disaster (volunteer) workers to support emergency operations throughout the area. Following the issuance of a blizzard warning by the National Weather Service, the Red Cross is working with local government agencies to urge residents to minimize travel and take safety precautions.

The Red Cross is following instructions to remain off the roads; disaster (volunteer) workers continue to staff shelters..." throughout the region.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Citizen Corps Volunteers Respond to Blizzard 2010

Members of the Fairfax County Citizen Corps Council and Volunteer Fairfax's Volunteers for Change volunteered, along side employees from the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs, at the County Government Emergency Hotline to help setup and answer calls after the recent storm.

Other Citizen Corps volunteers, responded to a county request to provide 4x4 vehicle transport for those that were unable to drive due to the current road conditions. Those that were brought to the warming shelters were very appreciative.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Citizen Corps Volunteers - Get Your Voice Heard

Secretary Napolitano Launches Public Engagement Website

Release Date: February 8, 2010
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

Web tool will increase transparency, collaboration as part of Open Government Initiative

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the launch of a new online public engagement tool designed to solicit input from the public on ways to enhance transparency, participation, collaboration and innovation at the Department—part of President Obama's Open Government Directive.

"Creating an open, transparent, more efficient and effective government is one of our top priorities at the Department of Homeland Security," said Secretary Napolitano. "This new online tool allows the public to play a major part in our Department-wide efforts to enhance openness and accessibility."

The new online tool—available from Feb.6-March 19 at allows members of the public and interested stakeholders to submit ideas and suggestions on ways DHS can enhance transparency, participation, collaboration and innovation—while saving taxpayer money.

The ideas submitted will help guide the development of an official DHS Open Government plan.

On Dec. 8, 2009, President Obama issued the Open Government Directive to begin breaking down long-standing barriers between the federal government and the people it serves, and instructed agencies to take immediate, specific steps to open their doors and data to the American people. Agencies across the federal government will begin engaging the public through similar online tools this week.

For more information, visit

Saturday, February 6, 2010

CERT Volunteer Snowed in During the Recent Blizzard?

Are you a CERT volunteer snowed in during the recent blizzard? Then we know you have an emergency preparedness kit (complete with food, flashlights, batteries, water, etc.) So you are prepared!

There are still a few things you can do:

- Check on your neighbors.

- Shovel out a fire hydrant.

Also, do you know what number to call, if you lose power and need someone to come evacuate you to a shelter? Chances are that someone will come and just pick you up are probably a little unlikely.

A good number to have on hand is your local county emergency hotline/information number.

Citizen Corps Volunteers Needed To Help Those Without Power

Local Citizen Corps Council receives request from Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to gather a list of volunteers with 4x4 vehicles that are able to transport individuals that are without power. They would like to make a list of available volunteers with their contact information including name, address, and phone.

This effort is being coordinated by the local volunteer coordination center, Volunteer Fairfax.

Those in the Fairfax County area of Virginia, should email

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Citizen Corps Volunteers Deploy to Haiti

The stories over the past week have focused on the amazing response from the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams and how every day volunteers from Citizen Corps programs help the USAR teams prepare for deployment.

Did you know that local American Red Cross Volunteers also deployed this past week, to assist in disaster efforts in Haiti?

The following WSUA 9 Story briefly covers the American Red Cross Volunteers Deploy to Haiti.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

CERT Trains with the Best of the Best

Our previous discussion was about CERT (Indirectly) Plays Role in Haiti as the CERT volunteeers were volunteer victims for multiple Urban Search and Rescue Exercises to help them prepare for responses like Haiti.

"Yes, that man in the stars and stripes headwrap is our very own CERT instructor Steve Willey. Steve is a structural engineer with Virginia Task force one." (Source: Fairfax County CERT Blog).

This is just more proof that many of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) students train with the best of the best.

Thanks to Steve and all the Urban Search and Rescue Teams responding to this disaster. We wish you all safe returns and look forward to you sharing your experiences through future training sessions once you get settled back.

Friday, January 15, 2010

CERT (indirectly) Plays Role In Haiti Disaster Response

Neighbors Helping Neighbors thanks and wishes the Urban Search and Rescue Teams safe travels as they respond to the disaster in Haiti.

But where does the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) fit in?

Ever wonder where these teams train and where they find volunteer victims? Members of the local CERT, as pictured below, serve as volunteer victims, as these teams train for these types of emergencies.

Additional information can be found at:

Other Citizen Corps programs, such as the American Red Cross, are also preparing to provide services for residents from Haiti as they arrive into the United States.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Disney Offers Free Ticket If You Volunteer

"It's an emergency, for Sara Ramirez, when she volunteers her time with the Muppets."

If you are a Citizen Corps volunteer, you will probably find the humor in this "Give a Day. Get a Disney Day" commercial.

Locally, there are many organizations participating in this program, including Volunteer Fairfax.

For additional information on the program, please visit the official Disney website.

Disney Parks not for you? Well, check this out and donate your ticket:

"We want to celebrate your good works in the community by giving you a 1-day, 1-theme park ticket to the Disneyland® Resort or Walt Disney World® Resort. After we receive verification that you've completed your service, we'll send you an email with a voucher redeemable for a 1-day, 1-theme park ticket for you to use, or you may donate it to a designated charitable organization"

What a great way to give back to the community... twice!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Frostival 2010 with a CERT Twist

"How can you get the CERT message across to 2 to 12 year olds without scaring them for life? Make it a GAME.

Our Outreach Team came up with a fun game that was informative as well as giving the player a prize. Who doesn't like getting a prize!!! So, the kids got to stick their hand in a green box filled with white plastic peanuts and pull out a piece of paper with a question. If the answer was given correctly (with help from mom or dad, or the ever helpful CERT booth babes or dudes) a nifty pen light or CERT pen was given. This game drew a crowd!!

We also had a quieter coloring page activity. 275 Preparedness Activity books were handed out as well. And we got a full page of parental sign ups for CERT classes. Those of you CERTs that were nursing a hangover; you missed a great event. We had a booth location near the stage." (Reprinted from Fairfax County CERT Blog)

Neighbors Helping Neighbors was pleased to suggest the concept of pulling questions out of the snow (box). And applauds the local CERT team for another successful outreach event.