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Health Department Seeks Volunteers for Point of Dispensing (POD) Exercise

Posted at 11 a.m.

Did you know that the Fairfax County Health Department has robust plans in place to respond to a wide-scale bioterrorism attack?

To keep our plans up-to-date and staff trained and ready, those plans have to be tested. And that’s where you can help!

Point of Dispensing (POD) exercise

The Health Department is seeking volunteers to participate in our upcoming Point of Dispensing (POD) exercise on Saturday, July 29. From 9-11 a.m. a simulated POD will be operated at Centreville High School, 6001 Union Mill Road, Clifton.

Trained Health Department staff and volunteers will assist actors – POD clients – with filling out a screening form, dispensing faux-medications and answering questions. This exercise is intended to evaluate the Health Department’s ability to provide critical services during a disaster, specifically dispensing medication quickly to residents.

Register to participate as an actor by going to Eventbrite. If you have any questions, contact Liz Sullivan, training and exercise coordinator, at 703-246-8703.

Fairfax Alerts

Volunteer Victim Actors Needed for Weekend CERT Exercise

Posted at 4:30 p.m.

Fairfax County CERTNewly trained Fairfax County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members will have an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and work together with seasoned CERT members in a training this Saturday, June 10, at Virginia Task Force One’s (VATF-1) training facility at the former Lorton Juvenile Detention Center.

From moulage — the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training emergency response teams and other medical and military personnel — to triage, CERT members will experience it all in this unique opportunity to practice their skills in a realistic full-scale exercise, allowing players to react to information and situations as they are presented.

Your Opportunity to Participate

If you’re not a CERT member, you can still participate. Volunteers are needed to play victim actors. Victim actors simulate specific roles during exercise play, typically victims or bystanders.

As a victim actor, you may be covered in theatrical make-up (moulage), could be lying in a damaged building waiting to be rescued or even looking for your imaginary friend. The scenarios you’ll participate in allow CERT responders to gain insight and learn to treat multiple victims in a short period of time.

  • 7:30-8 a.m. ~ Victim actor check in
  • 8-8:30 a.m. ~ Responder check in
  • Late arrivals will not be admitted after 9 a.m.

If you’re interested, you need to register online and sign a waiver. Participants will receive lunch provided by one of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Canteen units.

Regional Full-Scale Exercise Focuses on Preparing for Complex Terror Attack

Posted at 1:30 p.m.

Law enforcement officials and other first responders from several National Capital Region jurisdictions will participate in a full-scale exercise tomorrow, Wednesday, April 26, designed to prepare for the possibility of a complex coordinated terror attack in the region.

The life-like exercise will occur between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. and will include actors posing as casualties. The regional exercise will be staged at six sites in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia, and will involve hundreds of police, fire and emergency medical service personnel and volunteer actors.

The locations include neighborhoods in Fairfax, Prince George’s and Arlington Counties, as well as the Northeast and Southeast quadrants of the District of Columbia. Fairfax County’s exercise site is the former Lorton Reformatory prison site.

There is no reason for alarm if you observe increased public safety personnel in the area of any of the exercise activity.

“We’ll stage a very realistic emergency event involving multiple sites and actors posing as the casualties,” said Scott Boggs, managing director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). “However, there is no reason for residents to be alarmed because the exercise will occur in a controlled environment.”

Emergency managers who work together at COG planned the exercise to help protect residents by preparing for an attack involving multiple target locations and teams of perpetrators.

Tornado Drill Reminder… What Would You Do If You Were In a Real Tornado?

Posted at 9 a.m.

Tornado Drill March 2017

Virginia’s Statewide Tornado Drill is this morning, Tuesday, March 21, at 9:45 a.m.

The annual drill is an opportunity to take a moment and think about what you would do during a real tornado — and actually practice those actions.

Do you know what you should do?

If you are in a structure such as your residence, a small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center or high-rise building:

  • Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a small interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Put on sturdy shoes.
  • Do not open windows.

If you are in a manufactured home or office:

  • Get out immediately and go to a pre-identified location such as the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.

If you are not in a sturdy building, possible actions include:

  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
  • Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • In all situations, however:
    • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
    • Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
    • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

Learn more about tornadoes and tornado safety from

Be sure to participate in this morning’s drill — and please register your participation.

After the drill is complete, be sure to register for Fairfax Alerts emergency notifications to your smartphone and email inbox. You can select specialized categories of alerts — be sure to sign up for severe weather alerts!

Fairfax Alerts

Register Now for Statewide Tornado Drill on March 21

Posted at 1:30 p.m.

On Feb. 24, 2016, Virginia was hit by the deadliest tornado event since 1959, resulting in five fatalities and more than 45 injuries. An EF-1 tornado touched down on the Town of Waverly in Sussex County, an EF-3 tornado affected Appomattox County, and another EF-3 tornado hit the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck region.

The National Weather Service (NWS) verified that eight tornadoes struck Virginia during that storm. These storms are a stark reminder that Virginians must prepare for the possibility of tornadoes and other natural disasters.

Tornado Drill March 2017

Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will take place Tuesday, March 21, at 9:45 a.m.

The drill will start with a test tornado warning sent by the National Weather Service to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios. NOAA weather radios will sound a tone alert and show a test message (or flash to indicate a message) to simulate what people would hear or see during an actual tornado warning. Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System.

The Statewide Tornado Drill is a yearly opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado emergencies and to test public warning systems.

“Tornadoes can occur any month of the year, and Virginia averages 16 tornadoes each year,” said Bill Sammler of the National Weather Service. “When a tornado watch is issued for your area, know where to seek safe shelter should a tornado warning be issued.”

Show your support by registering for the tornado drill. In recent years, 1 million Virginians have signed up.

Register for the 2017 Tornado Drill


For more information about how to keep yourself, your loved ones and property safe during tornadoes, visit

* If widespread severe weather threatens the commonwealth on that date, then the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 22, at 9:45 a.m.