In Case of Emergency — Call 9-1-1

Posted at 11:45 a.m.

Sooner or later it will probably happen to you. An emergency strikes and you need an ambulance, fire equipment or police — now.

Don’t waste precious seconds trying to call your local fire or police station. Just dial 9-1-1, by voice or TTY (or text 9-1-1). The 9-1-1 dispatchers have the training to gather the proper information and dispatch all necessary resources for the situation. And although you may be tempted to call friends and family, if you are experiencing an emergency, it’s important to call 9-1-1 first.

This is an especially timely reminder since today is the 50th anniversary of the first 9-1-1 call in the United States. On Feb. 16, 1968, Alabama State Senator Rankin Fite completed the first 9-1-1 call in Haleyville, Ala.

In Fairfax County, 9-1-1 was adopted in 1981. And in 2005, the Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC) was established after previously being a component of the Fairfax County Police Department.

DPSC, also known as the county’s 9-1-1 Center, is a nationally recognized public safety communications center, the largest in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of the 10 largest in the United States.

DPSC receives approximately 1 million calls per year requesting public safety service and dispatches units of the Fairfax County Police Department, Fire and Rescue Department and Sheriff’s Office. In addition to Fairfax County, DPSC is the designated 9-1-1 public safety answering point for the towns of Herndon and Vienna and the City of Fairfax located in the county.

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 county’s 9-1-1 Center also is a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 9-1-1 Call Center Partner.

The county’s 9-1-1 Center and its employees — the First of the First Responders.

text to 9-1-1

Emergency Preparedness for Persons with Disabilities, and Access and Functional Needs

Posted at 11 a.m.

For the millions of Americans who have disabilities, natural and human-made disasters present a substantial challenge. Fairfax County is committed to the inclusion of all by spreading the message of preparedness to its residents with disabilities and access and functional needs.

Functional Needs Registry

The Functional Needs Registry is a tool for Fairfax County in pre-event emergency planning, resource management and communicating with people who have identified a functional need. Sign up for the Functional Needs Registry through Fairfax Alerts at Through Fairfax Alerts you also can receive information about severe weather, road closures, neighborhood evacuations and much more.

Each quarter a newsletter is sent out to the Functional Needs Registry with information and tips about emergency preparedness. Read the current newsletter (PDF) or listen to the audio version.

To learn more about how to be prepared in Fairfax County, visit the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management, call 571-350-1000, TTY 711, or send an e-mail to

Fairfax Alerts

Health Employees Respond to Hurricane Recovery Efforts

Posted at 1:30 p.m.

nvironmental health specialists from Fairfax County are among those being deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with the long-term recovery efforts from hurricanes Irma and Maria. The group includes five environmental health specialists, including one who is also a registered nurse. They will assist with identifying, monitoring, assessing and mitigating environmental health hazards.

Virginia will send two Environmental Health strike teams this weekend. They are expected to depart for the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix on Feb. 11 and return on Feb. 27.

Fairfax County Team Members

St. Thomas/St. John District Team

  • John Yetman, environmental health supervisor
  • Lois Maisel, environmental health specialist
  • Ebonie Miller, environmental health specialist

St. Croix District Team

  • Isaac Robertson, environmental health specialist
  • Ron Campbell, environmental health specialist

“We are excited and honored to be able to provide assistance to areas affected by those devastating storms,” said Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, Fairfax Health Director. “I want to thank the members of our team for their compassionate service. I know they will provide to the residents and visitors of the U.S. Virgin Islands the same professionalism and high quality service to which the citizens of the Fairfax have come to expect.”

The teams, deployed through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), also include specialists from Virginia Department of Health and Henrico, Roanoke, Three Rivers and Alexandria health districts.

The deployment is in response to an EMAC request — an all-hazards mutual aid agreement between all U.S. states and territories to provide response and recovery resources and support to each other during emergencies or disasters — from the Virgin Islands. Once the mission has been completed and the resources return, the expenses for this deployment will be reimbursed to the county by the Commonwealth of Virginia (through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management), which will seek its reimbursement from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Fairfax County Government Open With Unscheduled Leave for Employees on Wednesday, Feb. 7; Schools Closed

Posted 6:03 a.m.

Government, Schools and Courts

  • Fairfax County Government offices will be open on Wednesday, Feb. 7, however employees have been granted unscheduled leave. Emergency service personnel should report as scheduled.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools will be closed on Wednesday, Feb. 7. School Age Child Care (SACC) centers will be closed.
  • The Fairfax County General District Court, Circuit Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court are open on time.

Parks, Community and Recreation and Community Centers

Transportation: Connector, Fastran

Public Assistance Lobbies/SkillSource

The Department of Family Services employment/SkillSource centers and public assistance lobbies may be affected by inclement weather.  Call 703-324-7500, TTY 711, for the current operating status.


  • Library hours may be affected; call your local branch before visiting. For branch phone numbers, call 703-324-3100 or go to

View the public meetings calendar at for any potential cancellations of public meetings of Fairfax County government Boards, Authorities or Commissions.


Big Game Food Safety

Posted at 3 p.m.

The big football game is this weekend, pitting the New England Patriots against the Philadelphia Eagles. Whether you plan on watching the game or not, many will use the game as an “excuse” to have a party … and that means food! And many of us think of chicken wings.

Cuts of chicken used to be a novelty at the grocery store, safe temperatures for cooking wingswhere they were mostly sold in whole-bird form. But did you know that in 1964, the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y. decided to turn the typical soup-stock staple into a spicy finger food to feed a hungry crowd?

For a few years after they first served them, wings gained popularity in the bar scene — then came Super Bowl I, turning them into a sporting event tradition. Since that first game in 1967, when the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs, chicken wings have become a staple of football gatherings and tailgaters across many major sporting events.

A lot has changed for chicken since that fateful day in 1967. In spite of these changes to our appetite for wings — and other foods for the big game party — the four basic messages of food safety remain the same: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

Food Safety

Before and after preparing, handling or eating food, always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. Use clean plates, dishes, and utensils to serve food, and keep surfaces clean.

Make sure raw meat and poultry do not come into contact with other food. Use separate plates and utensils for these items, and never place cooked food back on the same plate that previously held raw food.

Always use a food thermometer when cooking meat and poultry products. The thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food and read after the manufacturer designated time.

  • Cook raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to 145 °F. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.
  • Cook raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to 160 °F.
  • Cook raw poultry to 165 °F.

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods must have a heat source, and cold foods should be kept on ice to remain at a safe temperature and out of the Danger Zone. The Danger Zone is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F where bacteria multiply rapidly.

Leftover foods should be refrigerated promptly and not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours. Perishable foods left out longer than two hours should be discarded.

For more food safety information, visit this Health Department webpage.

* Photos courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture