About CERT Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, is a free training and volunteer program administered through the county Fire and Rescue Department. The training prepares residents to help themselves, their families, and their neighbors in the event of a disaster in their community. Through CERT, residents can learn about disaster preparedness and receive training in basic disaster response and life-saving skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. With this training, graduates of the program can provide critical support by giving immediate assistance to victims before first responders arrive on scene.
Residents are trained to "self-activate" in case of major disasters; where regular emergency services may be overwhelmed. Trainees are taught to respond within their neighborhoods, or from wherever they are, work, home or play, to help their neighbors during these times. CERT instructors teach that CERT members are to activate for duty "when you pick up the phone to call 911 and 911 isn't there to answer." CERT members are taught to assess the scene and only respond if it is safe to do so. They are used in mass casualty/major disasters, e.g., Hurricane Katrina, major flooding, etc... and local emergencies where they can safely make a difference. CERT members are trained to operate without outside assistance, using materials that can be found on scene or nearby. During these emergencies they will often be the best trained responders and are taught to recruit and instruct their neighbors to safely help in carrying out their duties.
In class, trainees learn to provide triage, in situations where there may be more victims than responders, to identify those that need help the most, how to conduct light search and rescue operations, how to safely move heavy objects using materials at hand to help extricate trapped victims. They learn radio techniques, disaster psychology, proper use of fire extinguishers and how to administer lifesaving first aid care.
The course is 25 hours in length, usually held once or twice a week in the evening, plus a final exercise where you can be expected to use any or all of these new skills.
CERT Basic Training is offered several times a year, at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Academy and other locations throughout the community. CERT training is free of charge and the program provides a CERT backpack with basic gear which you get to keep after the training. The minimum requirements to participate in CERT Basic Training is that once started, you agree to attend all 8 sessions. There are no long-term obligations following CERT Basic Training. However, trained CERT are offered additional training usually FREE of charge including etc.
Age Restrictions: Anyone 18 years or older can attend the training without restrictions. We routinely have trainees in their 70s to 80s. Teens 17 and 16 years old may attend with the written permission of a parent or guardian, and teens 15 to 13 years old may attend with a parent or guardian also participating in the same class.
Physical Challenges? Everyone can benefit from this training. Trainees of all physical abilities are welcome and encouraged to get trained.
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Other CERT Training Opportunities: For those who have completed CERT training, CERT Trained, Fairfax County CERT offers ongoing refresher and continuing education courses, ranging from CPR/AED, First Aid, Traffic and Crowd Management, Incident Management, Stop the Bleed or Until Help Arrives, and more. In addition, CERTs can train to become volunteer instructors.
Volunteer Run Program: Fairfax County CERT is a volunteer run program. Trained CERT are encouraged to get involved and develop their leadership and response skills as instructors, training cadre, community engagement, program or event leaders or just as a responder helping your neighbors.
If you are interested in signing up for CERT training, Click here. For all other inquiries, please contact the Fire and Rescue Department Volunteer Liaison's office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 703-246-4683, TTY 711.
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