Arlington County will participate in what is being billed as the country’s first live multi-jurisdictional wireless emergency alert system test tomorrow (April 5) from 10-11 a.m.
Residents in participating jurisdictions will receive an alert on their cell phone “or other mobile devices,” according to a county press release. At least 20 jurisdictions, including D.C., College Park, Md., and Manassas, Va., are scheduled to simultaneously send out the test message.
The text, accompanied by a loud noise, will reportedly read as follows: “A test of the Arlington County Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action required.”
A back-up test date is scheduled for Monday (April 9) for the same time “if a real-world event impacts the [wireless emergency alert system] test on Thursday.”
The system is designed to send targeted emergency information to those in a specific area to a person’s mobile phone.
As the technology relies on carrier towers to relay messages within a “geo-targeted map,” those close to jurisdictions that are conducting the test may receive a message as well.
From 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Arlington police’s SWAT team will take part in the exercise near George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School at 3301 Fairfax Drive.
Residents can expect to see an increase in public safety vehicles and law enforcement officers in the area, and those traveling nearby may hear noise originating from the training site. All activities will be confined to the training site.
Law enforcement officials and other first-responders will take part in the exercise organized by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. The exercise is intended to prepare for a “complex” attack involving multiple target locations and teams of perpetrators.
Arlington is one of six locations for the exercise, along with neighborhoods in Northeast and Southeast D.C., and Prince George’s and Fairfax counties.
MWCOG spokeswoman Jeanne Saddler said the exercise is designed to be as realistic as possible. She said that residents nearby will be notified beforehand and that disruption should be minimal for those in the area.
“To some degree they’re trying to make it a surprise for the participants,” she said. “In order to maintain the exercise for participants and first-responders, we have to avoid making a mention of locations… I don’t think there’ll be disruption for residents or people traveling.”
Hundreds of police, fire, and emergency medical service personnel and volunteer actors will be involved in the exercise. The timing of the exercise is a secret too.
“Law enforcement officials practice and exercise their skills on their own regularly because that’s the best way to ensure we are always ready to respond quickly and professionally,” said Scott Boggs, managing director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at MWCOG, in a statement. “On April 26, we’ll go one step further and stage a very realistic emergency event involving multiple sites and actors posing as the casualties. However, there is no reason for residents to be alarmed because the exercise will occur in a controlled environment.”
Emergency Exercise at the Pentagon — The Arlington County Fire Department will be joining other agencies for an full-scale training exercise at the Pentagon today. The simulated helicopter crash and mass casualty response exercise will take place at the Pentagon heliport along Washington Blvd from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. [WTOP]
Police Warn of IRS Scam Calls — Scammers posing as local law enforcement officers or IRS agents have been phoning Arlington residents recently. “These individuals accuse the victims of owing money to the IRS which must be paid immediately using iTunes gift cards, or other means,” according to a press release. “In some cases, scammers have deliberately falsified the information transmitted to the victim’s Caller ID display to disguise their identity as the non-emergency police line.” [Arlington County]
New Ad Displays Coming to Metro Stations — The Rosslyn, Ballston, Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations will be getting new digital displays that will play video advertisements targeted at transit riders. [Borderstan]
Rental House Includes Tiki Bar — A listing for a rental home in the Ashton Heights neighborhood includes a “new tiki bar” in the backyard and off-street parking for four cars. The 4 BR / 3 BA home is listed for $4,500 per month. [Real House Life of Arlington, Zillow]
Actress to Campaign for Hillary In Arlington — Bellamy Young, who plays the First Lady on ABC’s “Scandal,” will stop by Hillary Clinton’s Arlington field office in Dominion Hills next Saturday morning, as part of a series of campaign events in Northern Virginia.
From 9 a.m. to noon, emergency responders will swarm “a remote area of the airfield” as part of a a simulated aircraft accident. The exercise will include a period of fire and smoke, 120 volunteer “victims,” multiple support helicopters and a river rescue response.
Nearby residents can expect to hear and/or see the exercise in progress.
“The full-scale emergency preparedness exercise, which is the culmination of months of planning and coordination across multiple jurisdictions and disciplines, is part of Federal Aviation Administration-mandated safety training to ensure airports are prepared for real-life aircraft emergencies,” notes a press release. “Airports are required to conduct a full-scale exercise every three years in order to be certified by the FAA.”
The rest of the press release is below.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport will hold an emergency preparedness exercise on Saturday, April 30, from 9 a.m. to approximately 12 p.m. A simulated aircraft accident will give the airport’s first responders an opportunity to put their emergency plans into action while providing hands-on training to airport and airline staff, hospitals, local jurisdictions and other emergency personnel. During the exercise, emergency personnel will respond as in a real emergency, including the use of sirens, firefighting equipment and helicopters.
The exercise will be held in a remote area of the airfield and will not affect normal airport operations or flights. Although the site will not be visible to most passengers, reminders about the exercise will be announced on Saturday morning via flyreagan.com, @Reagan_Airport on Twitter and public address systems in the airport.
Specifics of the exercise scenario have not been shared in advance with responding participants. The exercise will include the following elements to add realism to the simulated emergency:
- Participation by Airports Authority Fire and Rescue, Police and Airport Operations personnel
- Numerous emergency vehicles responding as mutual aid support from surrounding communities
- A brief period of fire and smoke
- Conversations between dispatchers and responders on emergency radio frequencies
- About 120 volunteer role players, moulaged to simulate injuries sustained from the incident
- Support helicopters responding to the emergency exercise
- A river rescue emergency response
PLEASE NOTE: Some of the exercise elements may be seen or heard on Saturday morning from areas surrounding the airport – especially in Arlington and Alexandria near U.S. Route 1, George Washington Memorial Parkway, I-395 and along the Potomac River near the airport.
The classes, which are six weeknights and two weekends, begin on Sept. 11 (Thursday) and next Tuesday, Sept. 16. The classes are held at the new fire training academy in Shirlington (2800 S. Taylor Street).
The classes cover disaster preparedness, disaster medical operations, fire suppression and utility shutoff, disaster psychology, terrorism, light search and rescue and team organization, according to Community Emergency Response Team volunteer coordinator Cythina Kellams. The session concludes with the trainees participating in a mock-disaster response.
“To date, more than 650 Arlingtonians have completed CERT training, many of whom have elected to be members of neighborhood teams available to assist the county in disasters,” Kellams wrote in an email. “Following the 2012 derecho, CERT members provided critical back-up to the county’s disabled 9-1-1 system.”
The classes are open to anyone who lives or works in Arlington and is 18 and older. If accompanied by a parent, 16- and 17-year-olds are also welcome. To secure one of the limited remaining spots, and for more information about class times, email [email protected]
Photo courtesy Cynthia Kellams
The drill will take place at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday. Participants are asked to “go low and stay low” by going to the lowest level of the building they are in, staying away from windows and doors, and crouching down and covering their heads, according to OEM.
Those with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios will get a test alert at 9:45, notifying them that the drill has begun.
The full press release from OEM, after the jump.
Photo courtesy NOAA via Wikipedia
Taking place at 10:17 a.m., The Great Shakeout will drill participants on the proper precautions to take when an earthquake strikes. Even if an earthquake is mild, emergency management experts encourage people to drop to the floor, seek cover under a sturdy desk or table and hold on to the shelter until the shockwaves are complete.
The event is being coordinated nationally by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and in Virginia by the state Department of Emergency Management. Virginia’s population is especially encouraged to participate after the 5.8 magnitude Mid-Atlantic earthquake in August 2011, which caused minor damage around Arlington.
Almost 2 million people have registered in the southeast region of the Shakeout, which stretches from Maryland to Georgia, and more than 24 million in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Canada and Italy. Participants can register to join for their family, school, company or other group, and can get resources like drill manuals and flyers.
Image via Shakeout.org
The exercise will simulate the door-to-door delivery of medication in the event of bioterrorism or a natural pandemic. On Thursday, April 25, some 50 volunteers will deliver small bags to the doorknobs of residents at the Gates of Ballston and River Place West apartment complexes, and in the Aurora Highlands and Ballston/Virginia Square neighborhoods.
“The bag will contain emergency preparedness information and other contents designed to simulate the weight and bulk of the actual medication that may be delivered in an emergency,” said Kurt Larrick, communications manager for the Arlington County Department of Human Services.
He continued: “The purpose of the exercise is to enhance the County’s ability to respond in an emergency by understanding how long it might take to reach all doorknobs in Arlington, should the need arise to give out antibiotic medicine and provide important information in a public health emergency where timely delivery to the population is essential.”
Larrick was asked: could the door-to-door delivery of medication also help in the theoretical scenario of a zombie apocalypse?
“We take an ‘all hazards’ approach to our emergency preparedness and response, so I am confident in our ability to respond quickly and effectively to any scenario, including zombies,” Larrick told ARLnow.com.
Before the distribution exercise on Thursday, about 25 volunteers will gather at the Arlington Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street) on Tuesday to help assemble the materials that will be used in the exercise.
In the event of a real medical emergency, the county will have the option of delivering medication door-to-door, or setting up a number of “PODs” — or Points of Dispensing — in the community. While delivering door-to-door to Arlington’s 100,000 households sounds daunting, the county has access to more than 300 Medical Reserve Corps volunteers and 3,500 county staffers to do the job.
Arlington County will participate in a statewide tornado drill tomorrow (Tuesday) as part of Tornado Preparedness Day.
The County is reminding residents that a tornado can strike in Arlington, and that it’s important to prepare for such an event ahead of time.
From an Arlington County media release:
March 12, 2013 is Tornado Preparedness Day in Arlington County. Unlike hurricane season, there is no such thing as a “tornado season,” and no part of the Commonwealth is immune from tornadoes. They can hit at any time of the year and at any time of the day.
Every family, business and organization should do two things to get ready:
- Get a NOAA Weather Radio with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) alerts.
- Participate in the statewide tornado drill Tuesday, March 12, at 9:45 a.m.
Arlington schools, businesses and residents have an opportunity to practice their tornado safety plans. At the same time, the National Weather Service (NWS) will be testing their public warning systems.
“The best and fastest way for anyone to get a tornado warning is by NOAA Weather Radio,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist. “With a weather radio, you get weather data directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. When we issue a tornado warning, the weather radio sounds an alarm or flashes lights and then gives information on where the storm is, which way it’s moving, and telling people in its path to take cover. This radio could be a lifesaver.”
NOAA Weather Radios with SAME alerts are available at electronics and sporting goods stores, discount and department stores, and online. They come in battery-powered models, and many also have AM/FM bands. A special needs NOAA Weather Radio is available as well. The special-needs NOAA Weather Radio can warn deaf and hard-of-hearing persons of hazardous conditions, giving them around-the-clock, up-to-the-minute weather information.
The general rule for tornado safety is “go low and stay low”, which means go to the lowest level of the structure, away from windows and crouch in a low position with your head covered.
A tornado watch means current weather conditions may result in a tornado. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted. If a tornado warning has been issued for your area, you should take cover immediately.
The majority of tornadoes occur between 3 and 9 pm. Think of where you would normally be during that time…at school, work, home, or in the car. You may only have a few seconds to react. Decide NOW where you would go if a tornado warning were issued.
Tornadoes can occur with little or no advance warning. It is important to have a weather radio nearby so you can listen for tornado and other severe weather watches and warnings.
If the National Weather service issues a tornado warning for Arlington, your weather radio will sound an alert, indicating that you need to move to a safe area immediately.
Sign up for Arlington Alert to receive free emergency messages within seconds to pagers, cell phones and e-mail. This is a great way to receive emergency information and critical safety messages when you need them most. To sign up at no cost, go to www.arlingtonalert.com. Alerts are available in Spanish, also.
Pre-set your battery operated radio to 1700AM Arlington for up to date emergency information including weather emergencies. You may also access 1700AM Arlington by calling 1-415-655-0811. (Long distance charges apply.)
For more information about tornado preparedness, visit the Arlington Office of Emergency Management website.
For help in conducting a tornado drill and to register for the statewide drill, go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov. Although registration is not required, people participating in the statewide drill are encouraged to sign up to show their support. The annual drill is a joint effort of Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) and NWS.
The first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System will be conducted at 2:00 this afternoon.
The test will be broadcast via radio and TV stations and cable TV providers, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is coordinating the test.
“An audio message will interrupt programming indicating it is a test,” Arlington County advised earlier this week. “When the test is over, regular programming will resume.”
From 4:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28, first responders from Arlington’s police, fire and sheriff’s departments, as well as the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management and the Alexandria Police Department, will conduct a joint training exercise inside the mall.
“The purpose of the exercise is to test the response of Arlington County’s public safety agencies in a simulated emergency situation,” Arlington Police said in a statement. No word on the exact type of emergency that will be simulated.
“Residents are advised that there could be some temporary traffic delays as emergency equipment is moved into place,” the statement said. “There will be a large number of public safety vehicles in the area of The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, The Arlington County Trades buildings, and several parking lots along Army Navy Drive across from the mall. The vehicles will not use their lights or sirens during the exercise. The mall will open for normal shopping hours.”
“Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Arlington County has devoted its resources to emergency preparedness,” the statement continued. “This exercise is one example of the many ways the agencies of the National Capital Region train to ‘expect the unexpected.'”
In case you missed the fake gore of Saturday morning’s elaborate plane crash drill at Reagan National Airport, photographer Tim Lundin took plenty of pictures to satisfy your curiosity. See his photo gallery on Facebook.
Also from Tim comes this description of the drill scenario:
A Bombardier Q400 inbound to land on Runway 4 at Reagan National experiences severe flight control problems for unknown reasons approximately 200 feet prior to the approach end of the runway. The aircraft impacts the water and breaks apart. Parts of the airplane strike three vehicles driving on Thomas Avenue, pushing them into the parking lot south of Runway 4 and creating a debris field. The fuselage bursts into flames as it skids onto the parking area southwest of the runway. Four victims are flung into the Potomac River with multiple victims located in the parking lot. Additional, two airport shuttle buses have collided in the parking lot.
The Airports Authority will be conducting a simulated plane crash exercise, featuring numerous boats and helicopters, river rescues of live “victims,” and some pyrotechnics to boot.
The exercise will take place from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., primarily on the southern end of the airport.
“There will be numerous emergency vehicles operating in the area of the George Washington Parkway near Reagan National Airport, smoke and fire may be visible from the south area of the Airport, and river rescue boats and helicopters will be operating on the Potomac River near the south end of the Airport—all part of the exercise,” the Airports Authority advises in a press release.
A large-scale emergency exercise will take place at the Rosslyn Metro on Saturday, Feb. 13. About 150 Arlington police and fire personnel, along with 50 volunteer victims, will participate in a simulated terrorist bombing of a Metrorail train in the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
Firefighters will use their recently-acquired Mobile Emergency Response Vehicles (MERVs) to travel through the tunnels. MERVs, which were used during the 2005 bombing of the London Underground, can reduce the time it takes first-responders to reach underground victims from 45 minutes to 4 minutes.
The exercise will take place between 9 AM and noon. The $1.2 million in funding for it came from a federal Homeland Security grant.
Rosslyn residents should take note that the Rosslyn and the Arlington Cemetery Metro stations will be closed throughout President’s Day weekend for a major track rehabilitation project. The closure will begin on Friday, Feb. 12 at 10 PM. The stations will reopen Tuesday morning.