CERT training helps DMV residents be ready for disaster

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FAIRFAX, Va. – The latest act of terror in Las Vegas underscores the need for preparation in chaotic situations.

At least that’s how instructors with the Community Emergency Response Team (commonly referred to as CERT) would assess the situation.

CERT programs are federally funded for every county. In Fairfax County, the idea has taken off and given close to 3,000 people an opportunity to learn potentially life-saving techniques.

“In this CERT training I learned how to keep myself calm in stressful situations, how to keep myself organized, how to be prepared,” said Anita Van Der Merwe.

Van Der Merwe was one of those thousands that took a 30-hour class. She ended up volunteering to teach others.

She said even though she would keep herself as the top priority in an emergency the classes are also meant to the community as a whole.

“If I can keep myself safe then I can help other,” said Van Der Merwe.

She estimates between 10 – 12 classes will be taught this year in Fairfax County including the following upcoming classes:

* CERT 129 meets at McLean Fire Station FS401, Tuesday nights from 7:00-10:30 PM. Class dates are September 12, 19, 26, October 3, 10, 17, and 24.

* CERT 126 meets at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church, Herndon, Tuesday and Thursday nights from 7:00-9:30 PM. Class dates are October 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, and 26.

* CERT 131 meets at Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Academy, Monday and Wednesday nights from 7:00-11:00 PM. Class dates are October 4, 11, 16, 18, 23, 25, 30, and November 1.

For more information on the program including how to register for a class visit the county’s website.