From fires to health scares to severe storms, emergencies can occur at any time and being prepared is key. Arlington County is offering free classes to train residents how to help themselves and others if an emergency occurs.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training began 10 years ago in Arlington and 575 residents have completed the program in that time. The hands-on training covers topics such as disaster preparedness, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, team organization, disaster psychology, fire suppression and terrorism.
One example of what CERT members do was evident last June during the derecho. Members assisted the community in various capacities immediately following the storm, often as points of contact when calls weren’t getting through to 911.
“We had people strategically posted at fire stations to dispatch the right help to where it was needed,” said Arlington County Office of Emergency Management Director Jack Brown. “The community response teams, CERT, they really stepped up to the plate.”
There are two training sessions scheduled for next month, one beginning on March 7 and the other on March 12. Each session includes eight classes which will meet on six weeknights and two Saturdays. All classes meet at the Arlington County Fire Department Training Academy in Shirlington and are taught by ACFD and Office of Emergency Management staff, as well as active duty CERT members.
Advance registration is required to participate in the classes, and there are still some spots left for the March training. Those interested should email the program’s volunteer coordinator, Cynthia Kellams, at ArlingtonCERT@gmail.com. Participants must be Arlington residents who are at least 18 years old.
The exercise is expected to involve officers using paintball guns and flash grenades. Residents in the area should expect some loud noises and the presence of numerous police vehicles.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department’s (ACPD) Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team will be conducting a training exercise at 3963 N. 26th Street on Tuesday, October 23rd between 6:00 am – 3:00pm. The purpose of the training is to simulate real life situation and a coordinated response in your neighborhood.
There will be no live ammunition used in this exercise. However, realistic looking training weapons that shoot paint projectiles will be utilized. Noise flash diversionary devices may also be utilized during this exercise. These devices will make considerable noise but do not dispense any munitions. The noise may be upsetting to small children, pets or those with sensitive hearing. If someone in your household falls into one of those categories we ask you take precautions you believe are appropriate.
Numerous Police vehicles will be parked in the area. These vehicles will not block any driveways or the right of way on the road. Should a vehicle need to be relocated because it is blocking your access, please contact one of the on-scene control officers for assistance. The control officers can be identified by the bright yellow traffic control vests they will be wearing.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation. Realistic training is critical to enhancing our capabilities to serve and protect you to the best of our ability. Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated.
(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) A couple of training exercises will be taking place in Arlington today and tomorrow.
An Arlington County Police Department training exercise has been ongoing since 6:00 a.m. in the 3900 block of N. 26th Street. Explosive Ordnance Disposal units will join the SWAT team for the joint training exercise. It will continue until about 3:00 p.m. today and isn’t expected to cause much disruption to residents.
Tomorrow (Wednesday), neighbors around Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) might hear some noise during a “force protection” exercise from 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. There will be real and simulated training responses for personnel there, including lockdowns and gate closures. There may also be sirens, blank cannon fire and simulated emergency announcements on the outdoor speaker system.
A number of first responder units, including police and firefighters, will be on base for the training. Residents should not be alarmed at seeing this large emergency presence, or any of the personnel who may be wearing makeup to simulate wounds.
The FBI is conducting a training exercise on the 4400 block of 16th Street N., in Waverly Hills, until about 4:00 p.m., according to an Arlington Alert.
The exercise inadvertently drew a large police response to the area when a 911 caller reported seeing a man dressed in camouflage with an assault rifle strapped to his back near Glebe Elementary School. Police searched the area and eventually discovered the training exercise, according to scanner traffic.
Military training exercises will be taking place at the National Guard center throughout the day. As part of the drill, residents — especially those in the Barcroft and Alcova Heights neighborhoods – may notice a helicopter landing and taking off in the field at Arlington Hall West Park around 11:00 a.m. and again at 3:25 p.m. Park visitors are advised to avoid the area around these times.
Police officers and firefighters will be in the area to provide assistance as necessary. There are no traffic disruptions or noises expected during the training exercise, other than the helicopter, we’re told.
The Arlington County Fire Department and numerous other local fire departments are participating in a month-and-a-half-long study in Crystal City that could help save lives.
The “Fire Fighter Safety and Deployment Study,” organized and funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), is putting real-world firefighters in realistic firefighting simulations in a vacant Crystal City high rise. The goal of the study is to determine how firefighters can be most safely and effectively deployed in the event of a fire in a high rise building.
Among the fire departments participating in the study are Arlington, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Howard County, the District of Columbia, Fairfax County, Fairfax city, Prince William County, Manassas, Manassas Park, Stafford County, and Baltimore city. Representatives from fire departments in Detroit, Chicago and New York City are also on hand.
On days when the study is being conducted (most weekdays between now and July 13), workers and residents can see the various agencies represented in the long line of fire trucks parked along 23rd Street. Between 25 and 30 Arlington fire personnel participate on study days, according to Capt. Chuck Kramaric, ACFD’s liaison to the study. ACFD is providing firefighters and logistical support to the study.
On Tuesday, Arlington’s latest fire recruit class was among the participants. Firefighters were asked to strap on portable heart rate monitors and all their firefighting gear, and — in crews of 3, 4, 5 or 6 — climb the stairs to the tenth floor of the vacant building. There, study organizers had set up makeshift plywood cubicles, placed a 130 pound victim dummy in one of the cubicles, filled the floor with dark theatrical smoke, and set up fire simulation displays in different parts of the floor.
Acting on instructions given by organizers during a briefing that morning, firefighters lugged a heavy, sand-filled hose (meant to simulate the weight of a hose filled with water) through the smoke-filled floor, “extinguished” the simulated fires, and located the simulated victim. The entire exercise was monitored and timed by NIST personnel.
In the end, study organizers hope to use the data collected to make suggestions to local fire chiefs and policy makers regarding the optimal number of firefighters needed to tackle high rise fires. Even though modern high rise buildings are, by law, equipped with sprinklers and other fire suppression systems, Kramaric said the recommendations from the study could be especially helpful for fires in older buildings.
“There are so many old mid-rise buildings without the modern systems in them… that’s where this is going to be beneficial,” he said. “This is a pretty big deal for the fire fighting community.”
Kramaric also noted that fires can still get out of hand in modern high rises in certain situations, like during construction, renovation and demolition. In August 2007, two New York City firefighters died during a fire in the Deutsche Bank building, which had been damaged during 9/11.
The exercise will be held from 4:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, and will “assess the response of Arlington County’s public safety agencies in a simulated active shooter emergency incident.”
“The public should be advised that there could potentially be some temporary traffic delays as emergency equipment is positioned,” the police department said in a press release. “There will be a large number of public safety vehicles in the area of The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and several parking lots along Army Navy Drive in close proximity to the mall. The exercise participants will not be activating their emergency lights or sirens at any time during the training.”
The mall will be opening for normal shopping hours after the exercise.
Residents in Virginia Square and Ashton Heights may see more police presence in the neighborhood tomorrow. The Arlington County Police Department advises residents not to be concerned, because it’s only a training exercise.
Law enforcement officers will be performing the training exercise in Oakland Park, which is located at the corner of Wilson Blvd and Oakland St. It’s slated to run from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Residents who park in the area are advised to pay extra attention to signs on parking meters during that time. Many meters around the park will be designated for use only by those participating in the training.
Several readers contacted ARLnow.com this morning about activity in the Waverly Hills neighborhood. A number of people dressed in FBI gear were spotted at a house near N. 16th St and Glebe Rd.
There’s no need to worry, though. Neighbors report it appears the FBI was using the private residence for a training exercise.
Photo courtesy of Lucy Brookover
Don’t be surprised if you hear what sounds like gunshots near the Pentagon this weekend. The Pentagon’s police agency is planning to conduct a “live fire calibration test” between 6:00 a.m. and noon on Sunday.
From a Pentagon Force Protection Agency press release:
On Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011, a live fire calibration test will be conducted by the Pentagon Force Protection Agency between 6 a.m. and noon. If severe weather is predicted, the test will be conducted during the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 10.
Pedestrians near the area during the testing may hear firearm discharges and see testing facilitators with yellow safety vests. All activities have been coordinated with the Pentagon building safety office, security personnel, and neighboring jurisdictions. Safety during the test is a priority, and the Pentagon Force Protection Agency will be restricting vehicle and pedestrian access to certain locations around the South Parking Lot during this time.
If any individual or activity looks suspicious, please call 703-697-5555 immediately.
It may be a long night if you’re a light sleeper. Two separate training exercises are threatening to make some noise in the Arlington area during the wee hours of the morning.
First, a “series of training flights” is planned between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m.
In a series of training flights held in coordination with the FAA, an exercise will take place between 3 and 5 a.m. Wednesday morning in the National Capital Region. Depending on flight patterns some Arlington residents may be affected.
Then, the Presidential Salute Battery will once again be conducting cannon firing drills in Arlington National Cemetery, starting at 6:30 a.m.
The Presidential Salute Battery will be conducting firing drills in Arlington National Cemetery June 15 from 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. The training is being conducted before the cemetery opens to not interfere with ongoing memorial services. This training ensures the unit maintains the highest level of ceremonial proficiency necessary to render proper honors to our nation’s fallen servicemembers and veterans.
(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) It looked like a scene from an action movie, but it was really just a training exercise.
FBI agents, dressed in camouflage body armor and armed with faux automatic weapons, practiced raiding a home in Waverly Hills today. The home, near the corner of 16th Street and N. Glebe Road, was vacant and made available for law enforcement training by the property owner.
Several alarmed residents contacted ARLnow.com to ask what was going on. When we arrived on scene about a half dozen FBI personnel were standing in the street observing agents who were surrounding the house with riot shields and fake guns.
FBI Washington Field Office spokesperson Lindsay Godwin said field training exercises like this are conducted at local homes about four times per year.
We blurred the agents’ faces at the request of the FBI.