9-1-1 Center Receives Fourth Consecutive State Accreditation as Center of Excellence

Posted at 11:30 a.m.

Our Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC) – the county’s 9-1-1 Center — has been accredited as a 9-1-1 Emergency Medical Dispatch Communications Center of Excellence by the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Emergency Medical Services. This is the fourth consecutive two-year accreditation, spanning eight years, that DPSC has received.Fairfax County 9-1-1

To receive this accreditation, a center must have an approved emergency medical dispatch program that trains 9-1-1 calltakers to provide emergency medical pre-arrival instructions to callers needing EMS response.

As an example of the positive impact of emergency medical dispatch-pre arrival instruction, in calendar year 2013, county calltakers assisted in the following critical life threatening/lifesaving events*:

  • Choking Events — 7
  • Child Birth Delivery Events — 12
  • Drowning Events — 13
  • Shooting Events — 80
  • Stabbing Events — 102
  • Attempted Suicide Events — 280
  • CPR Events — 1,523

“Every action DPSC engages in 24/7 is of great value and importance to the residents of Fairfax County,” said DPSC Director Steve Souder, “but none more so than the lifesaving/life enabling medical instruction provided by 9-1-1 calltakers when rendering Emergency Medical Dispatch-Pre Arrival Instruction, prior to the arrival of EMS units.”

“The Virginia EMD re-accreditation is a testament to our program and the skill, ability and professionalism of our personnel,” Souder added.

Fairfax County 9-1-1 is an accredited 9-1-1 center for emergency medical dispatch with the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services.

Fairfax County 9-1-1 is an accredited 9-1-1 center for emergency medical dispatch with the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services.

The Department of Public Safety Communications is a combined police, fire and emergency medical services dispatch facility. It is the public safety answering point for all 9-1-1 calls dialed in Fairfax County, including the towns of Herndon and Vienna, and the City of Fairfax. The department also is the answering point for non-emergency calls for service for Police, Fire and Rescue. The center answers more than 1.2 million calls a year.

The Department of Public Safety Communications is located at the McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center (MPSTOC) on Alliance Drive, Fairfax.

*Statistics are based on remarks entered in CAD (computer aided dispatch) and final event types.

Remember to “Fall Back” Saturday Night

Posted at 2:30 p.m.

Daylight Saving Time ends officially at 2 a.m. tomorrow (Sunday) morning, but most of us use bedtime tonight as the trigger to turn our clocks back one hour before going to bed.

Remember the old saying… “spring forward, fall back.” It’s a great way to remember which way to turn the clocks.

And our fire and rescue and emergency management staffs also encourage you to use Daylight Saving Time as a standard time twice each year to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and to refresh the supplies in your emergency supply kits in your home, car and office.


Volunteers Needed for CERT Exercise

Posted at 11:30 a.m.

Fairfax County’s CERT – the Community Emergency Response Team – is seeking victim actors who can help trainees practice their skills.

CERT-logoThe exercise is on Saturday, Nov. 15, from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Lorton training site, located at the former Lorton Juvenile Detention Center in Lorton. The exercise is perfect for drama classes, students needing community service hours, retired persons, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and anyone interested in disasters.

Victim actors must:

  • Be 16 years of age or older.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes (no flip-flops, Crocs, sandals, etc.).
  • Dress in clothes appropriate for the weather and that you don’t mind messing up with fake blood, etc.
  • Sign a waiver.

CERT will provide simulated wound makeup and give you symptoms to role-play during the exercise. And when the exercise is over, they’ll also feed you lunch.

To volunteer for the Nov. 15 exercise, email actors@fairfaxcountycert.org.

Seeking Faith Leaders for Community Chaplain Corps

Posted at 1 p.m.

Fairfax County Community Chaplain Corps We are in search of local faith leaders who have an interest in providing pastoral care and support to members of the community in emergency situations as part of our Community Chaplain Corps.

The Community Chaplain Corps works within our emergency management structure to administer to the needs of community members in distress. Community chaplains can be ordained leaders of any religion and must complete a series of five required training courses prior to receiving their certification and credentials from the Office of Emergency Management.

The next training series is scheduled to begin Jan. 12, 2015.

Interested faith leaders must complete and submit applications no later than Nov. 14. Additional information and application materials are available online.

Questions about the Fairfax County Community Chaplain Corps may be directed to the Community Interfaith Coordination Office at NCSInterfaith@fairfaxcounty.gov, or by calling 703-324-3452, TTY 711.


Seminar and Exercise Program to Address Community Disaster Preparedness

Posted at 2 p.m.

Volunteer Fairfax and Faith Communities in Action held a Community Collaboration for Disaster Resiliency Summit earlier this year. Organizations such as faith and community-based organizations, disaster volunteer groups, residential management groups, civic associations and representatives from the private, public and nonprofit sectors involved with disaster recovery attended.

We all know that in times of disaster, we can’t recover without community support. So in an effort to continue the conversation started earlier this year with the summit, Volunteer Fairfax received funding to conduct a pilot program in the Mason, Braddock and Sully Districts.

As part of this pilot, an educational seminar and practice exercise will be held in each of these districts as an opportunity for local community partners to meet and better understand how we can best work together in response to a disaster.

Mason District Seminar

Date: Wednesday, Oct. 29
Time: 5-8 p.m.
Location:  Annandale United Methodist Church, 6935 Columbia Pike, Annandale

Mason District Exercise

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 3
Time: 5-8 p.m.
Location: Heritage Center, conference rooms C & D, 7611 Little River Turnpike, Annandale

Leaders and decision-makers at area community-based organizations, local nonprofits, faith-based groups, homeowners associations, PTAs and first responders should attend. There is no cost to attend and dinner is even included. If your organization serves this region, we welcome you to join the conversation and attend.

If you need more information — or if your organization serves the Braddock or Sully Districts – contact Tracy Friend with Volunteer Fairfax for more details.


Woman Taken Ill at Pentagon Does Not Have Ebola

Posted at 5:20 p.m.

At about 9:10 a.m. today, Pentagon Police officers identified a woman in the Pentagon South Parking Lot, around lanes 17-19, who was ill and vomiting. Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) was notified and responded immediately with both emergency medical aid and HazMat response team.

During the response, the individual allegedly indicated that she had recently visited western Africa. Out of an abundance of caution, all pedestrian and vehicular traffic was suspended around the South Parking lot, while Arlington County responded to the scene.  At 9:53 a.m., the patient was taken to the Virginia Hospital Center; however she did not exit the ambulance. ACFD then transported the patient to Fairfax Inova Hospital.

Based on the public health investigation, which included the travel history of a woman who became ill this morning in a Pentagon parking lot, and on questioning of her by medical staff, medical authorities are confident that she does not have Ebola.

The woman had displayed symptoms consistent with the virus and her travel history was uncertain, so she was put in isolation at Fairfax Inova Hospital. Arlington and Fairfax County personnel took all necessary precautions to protect public health during this event.

Get Ready to ShakeOut!

Posted at 8:30 a.m.

Get ready… it’s almost time!

The Great Southeast ShakeOut earthquake drill begins today at 10:16 a.m. and you can participate where ever you might be. The earthquake drill is a great time to practice the actions you should take during a real earthquake – drop, cover and hold on:

  • DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you).
  • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table.
  • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

Earthquakes happen without warning, and the shaking may be so severe that you cannot run or crawl. So drop, cover and hold one immediately.

Get ready to practice at 10:16 a.m. and take part in the Great Southeast ShakeOut. Learn more at www.ReadyVirginia.gov or www.shakeout.org/southeast.

National Capital Region Ebola Update

Posted at 3:25 p.m.

There are no cases of Ebola in the National Capital Region. However, measures are in place to effectively deal with an Ebola infected person if one were to arrive in the region. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the top health officials in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia have said the risk of Ebola spreading widely in the United States is low.

Enhanced Screening at Dulles International Airport to Begin on Thursday, Oct. 16

Travelers from the Ebola-affected countries entering the U.S. through Dulles International Airport and four other U.S. airports (New York’s JFK, Newark, Chicago-O’Hare and Atlanta international airports) will receive enhanced entry screening. Screening begins at Dulles tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 16. This screening means that travelers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone will:

  • Receive information about Ebola, its symptoms, what to do if symptoms develop and information for doctors if travelers need medical attention.
  • Be asked to answer questions to determine their risk of infection, have their temperatures taken and be observed for other symptoms of Ebola.
  • If symptoms exist, be referred to CDC officials on site for further evaluation.

As a result of this process, CDC officials at the airport will determine whether a traveler:

  • Can continue to travel.
  • Should be taken to a hospital for evaluation, testing and treatment.
  • Is referred to a local health department for further monitoring and support.

This enhanced screening of those entering the U.S. from the affected countries in West Africa will support the surveillance and monitoring already in place throughout the region at hospital emergency rooms and other health facilities.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through close contact with an infected patient’s blood or bodily fluids.  For more detailed information about the disease, visit the CDC website, www.cdc.gov, and review the Frequently Asked Questions about Ebola on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments website.

facts about ebola (CDC)

So Why Should I Drop, Cover and Hold On?

Posted at 11:30 a.m.

Why is it important to do a Drop, Cover and Hold On earthquake drill? To react quickly you must practice often. You may only have seconds to protect yourself in an earthquake, before strong shaking knocks you down — or drops something on you.

Wally Simmons, loss prevention manager with our Risk Management Division, says that participation in an earthquake drill is an important personal preparedness activity.


Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths are caused by collapsing walls and roofs, flying glass and falling objects. It is extremely important to move as little as possible to reach an identified place of safety since most injuries occur when people try to move more than a short distance during the shaking.

Look around you now, before an earthquake.

  • Identify safe places such as under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall in your home or office so that when the shaking starts you can respond quickly.
  • An immediate response to move to that safe place can save lives.
  • And that safe place should be within a few steps to avoid injury from flying debris.

Great Southeast ShakeOut

So when can you hold an earthquake drill?

You can practice your response to an earthquake at any time, but next Thursday, Oct. 16, is the annual Great Southeast ShakeOut earthquake drill, and already over 1.6 million folks have registered to participate — in their home, school or business — at 10:16 a.m.

Simmons offers several suggestions on how you can participate regardless of where you might be.


We can’t allow ourselves to forget that Virginia has felt the impact of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake with hundreds of aftershocks damaging more than 1,400 homes and businesses. The purpose of this exercise is to continue to practice lifesaving responses in the event of another real-world event.

Get more details and register your participation at www.shakeout.org.

southeast shakeout earthquake drill

It’s Fire Prevention Week

Posted at 12:30 p.m.


Fire Prevention Week Open Houses on Saturday

This is Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 5-11). This year’s theme is “Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives. Test Yours Every Month!”

In an effort to prevent home fires before they start, our Fire and Rescue Department is hosting Fire Prevention Week Open Houses on Saturday, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at all stations throughout the county.

Firefighters and paramedics will have displays and activities emphasizing fire and life safety, including preventing fires and fire injuries, especially in the home, and hands-only CPR demonstrations. You are encouraged to visit a nearby fire and rescue station and join in the activities and learn more about fire safety.

Fire Prevention Week Message from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe

To learn more about fire prevention, go to www.firepreventionweek.org or visit our fire and rescue department at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fr.

Great Southeast ShakeOut Earthquake Drill is Two Weeks Away; Are You Registered Yet?

Great Southeast ShakeOut Oct 16, 2014

Posted at 1 p.m.

Wherever you are two weeks from now (home, school, work or play) – on Thursday, Oct. 16 – you can learn about earthquake safety by joining in the Great Southeast ShakeOut, a multi-state earthquake drill set for 10:16 a.m. Register now to participate in the ShakeOut and learn how to drop, cover and hold on:

  • DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you).
  • Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table.
  • HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

Earthquakes happen without warning, and the shaking may be so severe that you cannot run or crawl. So drop, cover and hold one immediately. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, drop to the ground in an inside corner of the building, and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms. Do not try to run to another room to get under a table.

Also, during an earthquake, don’t run outside. Trying to run is dangerous because the ground is moving and you can easily fall or be injured by falling bricks, glass and other building materials. You are much safer to stay inside and get under a table.

If you can’t participate Oct. 16, hold an earthquake drill for your family, workplace, organization or school anytime through Dec. 31, and you can still register your participation in the ShakeOut.

Last year more than one million Virginians took part in the Great Southeast ShakeOut. Learn more and sign up for the Oct. 16 earthquake drill at www.ReadyVirginia.gov or www.shakeout.org/southeast.


Video: ReadyNoVa Website Offers Emergency Planning Tool

Posted at 3:30 p.m.

ReadyNoVa.orgNational Preparedness Month — September — ends today, but that doesn’t mean that your efforts to be prepared for any emergency should too.

A key component to having your family ready for all hazards is to have a family emergency plan. But how do you prepare one?

Luckily for us here in Northern Virginia, there is a website – www.readynova.org –  that was developed to assist residents and business owners in Northern Virginia in developing a family emergency plan or a business emergency plan.

In the video below, Bruce McFarlane with our emergency management office has more on ReadyNoVa.org.

McFarlane adds that the site follows basic and accepted emergency management practices and that both planners provide an easy-to-use tool in developing your emergency plan.


Emergency Management Coordinator Dave McKernan on Being Ready for All Hazards

Posted at 11 a.m.

Our Emergency Management Coordinator Dave McKernan spoke to the Board of Supervisors during their Sept. 9 meeting as part of the Board’s proclamation of September as “Emergency Preparedness Month” in Fairfax County, part of the larger, National Preparedness Month held every September.

McKernan says that Fairfax County has done a lot to be prepared as a government and is ready to respond to emergency situations, but that county residents also need to be ready for any and all hazards.


McKernan noted that regional, national and international events continue to highlight the need to be ready for all hazards – as an individual, family, organization or business.


And should something occur, McKernan noted that you should “be your own hero” and be ready to provide for the safety of yourself and your family, as well as help friends and neighbors.


McKernan adds that every resident in Fairfax County should also be enrolled on Fairfax Alerts, the county’s way to send emergency alerts and notifications — including severe weather and traffic alerts — to both email and smartphones.

Additional information and resources are available online, including tips on making an emergency kit and an emergency plan for your family or your business.

If you need more information on emergency preparedness, you can call our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711; or email oem@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Reminder: CEAN Alerts Discontinued Sept. 30

Posted at 11 a.m.

In this video, Paul Lupe from our emergency management office, provides a reminder for existing CEAN users of the need to create a new Fairfax Alerts account before the end of the month (Sept. 30).

Fairfax Alerts Blog Box

The former CEAN platform will no longer be used after Sept. 30, so we want to make sure that if you were receiving alerts that you continue to receive them after the full switch over to Fairfax Alerts.

Learn more and register for Fairfax Alerts at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts. If you have any questions, or need assistance in registering, email OEM-AlertSupport@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Audio: Fairfax Alerts Offers Customizable Emergency Alerts

Posted at 10 a.m.

A couple of months ago, we changed our emergency alerting system from the Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN)* to Fairfax Alerts. Fairfax Alerts

Sulayman Brown with our Office of Emergency Management (OEM) says there are several advantages to the new system, including that you can register multiple devices – up to 10 delivery methods like home phone, cellphone, email, text messaging and more — to receive emergency messages from Fairfax Alerts.


Brown adds that one of the major advantages of Fairfax Alerts is the ability to customize your weather alerts, not only for specific work or home locations, but also times during the day or night when you don’t want to receive weather alerts. You get to pick the types of weather alerts you wish to receive, along with traffic and public safety alerts.


It’s simple. If we can’t reach you, we can’t alert you. So sign up right now for emergency alerts from Fairfax Alerts at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.

For more on OEM visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/oem and for emergency preparedness information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency.

* Note: If you were registered in CEAN, that service will end on Oct. 1. To continue receiving alerts for weather, traffic and emergencies, you must register for Fairfax Alerts at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts


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