AAACERT PIO

Introducing…Our New Site!

AAACERT is proud to announce our newly redesigned website. We hope this site helps visitors more easily navigate to the information they need while providing more information on the activities of Anne Arundel-Annapolis CERT.

Visit the new site; then tell us what you think on our Facebook page.

Annual Meeting Focuses on 2021 Strategic View

Image of front and back of challenge coin. Front: Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team COVID-19; Back: Anne Arundel CERT Serving Our Communities 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic
The front and back of the challenge coin issued to AAACERT members who have served as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response. (Photo: AAACERT)

The Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) conducted its annual meeting on Nov. 18, 2020. Some members were co-located at Libations Restaurant in Millersville, MD, while numerous others tuned in via teleconference. President Bruce Morgenstern led the meeting from home. The meeting both reflected on AAACERT accomplishments in 2020 during the ongoing pandemic, as well as focusing on the planned 2021 Strategic View for the organization.

Remarks from County Officials
Near the start of the meeting, Anne Arundel County OEM Director Preeti Emrick acknowledged the significant work AAACERT has done in this atypical year, noting that OEM strongly depends on volunteers in the community. She particularly noted the assistance AAACERT has provided as Emergency Operations Center (EOC) calltakers during a time of extremely high call volume; workers who have pitched in with Donations Warehouse and Food Bank operations; volunteers who have supported OEM- and church-led food giveaways; and those individuals who have served as Annapolis city safety ambassadors. Director Emrick offered particular appreciation for Mr. Joseph Dorffner, AAACERT Coordinator, for the many hours Joe has put in gathering and aligning volunteers to the mission, and to President Bruce Morgenstern for his strong efforts.

Mr. Jim Krempel, the Community Outreach Coordinator, added his appreciation that, amid an ongoing health emergency, AAACERT has managed to conduct three CERT Basic courses. Mr. Krempel said that, to his knowledge, AAACERT is the only CERT organization in the state of Maryland that has done so.

Remarks from AAACERT President
Mr. Morgenstern then singled out numerous individuals for his appreciation. He thanked Ms. Rosy Dorffner for putting the Annual Meeting Event together; Mr. Brandon Gosnell for managing the challenging IT setup at Libations; Mr. Joe Dorffner for putting in so many hours as coordinator; and all 54 operational CERT members, whom he noted have put in more than 5,400 hours of COVID-19-related volunteer work in 2020. Bruce noted that there remain challenges ahead, including a critical shortage of OEM call takers, food distribution helpers, and Annapolis safety ambassadors.

2020 Year in Review
Mr. Dorffner reported that AAACERT has logged 5,544 hours specifically dedicated to COVID-19 response to date in 2020.

Mr. Paul Bowling highlighted that training accomplishments by the group included 10 monthly training sessions averaging 25 members per program. In February, Anne Arundel Community College Emergency Manager Arlene Crow conducted a timely companion workshop to the movie “Contagion.” In the fall of 2020, AAACERT conducted three basic CERT classes, currently yielding 12 new AAACERT members. Training topics were diverse over the year, including Amateur Radio Communications, Medical Emergencies, Hygiene & Sanitation, Firearm Safety, Planning for the “Hurridemic,” Windshield Assessment, the Emergency Response Guide, and COVID Impact (Community, Non-Profits, and First Responders and Lessons Learned). The team also conducted specialized training in Hazardous Materials, Search and Rescue, Call Taking, and Traffic Management. Finally, AAACERT held two “Train the Trainer” classes, instructing 23 AAACERT members, Adventist Community Services CERT-trained leaders, and a Calvert County Emergency Management Specialist.

Mr. Morgenstern then addressed membership. He noted that membership decreased from 94 to 86 members from 2019 to 2020, but that 71% of the current number are fully operational. Additionally, 76% of the total members are NIMS-compliant, having taken all of the requisite training to be properly educated in the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Bruce then reported that the AAACERT team has worked a total of more than 7,000 hours in total volunteer assistance, including the COVID-19-related activities. The percentage of current members meeting current operational hours requirements has increased from 54% to 60%, with two months remaining.

2021 Strategic View
Mr. Morgenstern then presented AAACERT’s 2021 Strategic View, noting goals that are focused on Organization, Membership, Training for the Community, Training for CERT members, Operations, Development, Logistics, Radio Communications, and IT/Communications/Public Affairs. The following individuals addressed these strategic goals:

Organizational (Bruce Morgenstern): Formalize relationships with more partner agencies and non-profits.
Membership (Bruce Morgenstern): Enhance and expand membership rolls with members who wish to actively engage with the community.
• Training for Community Members (Bruce Morgenstern): In addition to Basic CERT and in coordination with OEM, develop an outreach program that acquaints community members with AAACERT and provides valuable emergency preparedness and response information.
Training for AAACERT Members (Paul Bowling): Create the right balance of skills reinforcement training and new training initiatives to ensure readiness, and maintain member interest and growth. (This will include CERT Basic course – including high schools– monthly meetings, specialized teams, exercises, and miscellaneous offerings.) Monthly trainings will continue on the third Wednesday of each month except November; specialized team training will include EOC, First Aid, Search and Rescue, Sheltering, and Traffic; training suggestions may be sent to Training@AAACERT.org. Some training possibilities include First Aid / CPR / AED, Call Taker, WebEOC, Traffic, Parade Marshals, SAR Tech III, SAR Tech II, CBRNE, Stop The Bleed, and Narcan. Exercise options include Mass Casualty Incident response, Search and Rescue, or Vaccine Dispensing (would be coordinated with Maryland and/or Anne Arundel County Department of Health).
Operations (Joe Dorffner): Facilitate the creation of functional teams that will have the necessary skills and depth to respond to emerging needs; work with training to develop a program of training and exercises that will enhance member operational response; work with the executive committee to develop a plan for rapid expansion in response to a large-scale disaster (e.g., recruitment, just-in-time training, oversight, deployment).
Development (Paul Bowling): Address organizational needs and develop a plan for funds acquisition (e.g., grants, fundraisers, other revenue sources); create a repository of materials that will facilitate our response to grant applications. Paul noted that fewer grants are available due to COVID-19; that BG&E, which has provided a substantial grant in the past, has suspended grants for 2021; and that other grant sources are diminishing. He asked the members for fundraising ideas and participants. AAACERT has a planning deficit of $995 in 2020, and wishes to avoid use of its “rainy day” funds.
Logistics (Chris Meyd): Attain full accountability of all AAACERT assets, identify maintenance/replacement requirements for existing assets, develop a plan for restocking consumables, and simplify the purchasing process.
Radio Communications (Randy Sanger): Develop a strategic plan for evolving radio communications and establishing improved interoperability with coordinating agencies.
• IT/Communications/Public Affairs (Brandon Gosnell): Create a more robust infrastructure for data/file management; improve organizational promotion through enhanced social media and website engagement; create an expansive repository of photos, images, and other materials; work with regional groups to expand our digital communications.

Election of Officers
Mr. Rick Cooper, AAACERT Secretary, then called for nominations from the floor for the positions of Vice President, Treasurer, and Coordinator. He indicated that the Board recommended the current office holders and that these members are willing to serve another term, and asked if there was any discussion precluding that course of action. Hearing no dissenting views, the group elected the following by voice vote:

Vice President: Randy Sanger
Treasurer: Paul Bowling
Coordinator: Joe Dorffner

Closing Actions
Mr. Gosnell noted that Amazon orders can be a source of income if people designate AAACERT as recipients of their donations, via smile.Amazon.com.

Mr. Dorffner handed out challenge coins to 54 individuals who have participated in activities that are part of the COVID-19 pandemic response in 2020.

Mr. Morgenstern adjourned the meeting.

Congrats, CERT Basic Class of November 2020!

Congratulations to the November 2020 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Basic training class. The class underwent its training and final exercise at the Anne Arundel County Fire Training Academy in Millersville, MD. This training group had the extra challenge of having almost half the normal number of participants. As a result of their smaller size, during the simulation, search teams had to do double duty both looking for and treating victims. The class overcame this challenge, found all victims, and treated them accordingly.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, class sizes are limited and fill fast. Interested? Please visit www.aaacert.org.

Congratulations To Firefighter Recruit Class #60

AAACERT member Neal Anders provides parking directions to family members of a graduating firefighter before Firefighter Recruit Class #60 graduation ceremony.

Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) provided traffic support to honor and assist the Anne Arundel Fire Training Academy’s graduation of Recruit Class #60. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the graduating class was unable to hold their ceremony safely indoors. AAACERT members stepped up to facilitate the outdoor ceremony, helping to park around 100 cars on the Training Academy Yard and directing the recruits’ proud family members, in vehicles, to the stage area for pictures and cheers for their new firefighter. AAACERT volunteer members supported this important logistical task so that fire department personnel were available to participate in the recruits’ graduation ceremony.

New CERT Basic Training Class Completes Instruction

Simulation exercise participants including graduating members, volunteer proctors, volunteer survivors, and an Anne Arundel County Police Officer following the final simulation exercise.

Congratulations to the October 2020 Basic Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class. The class underwent its training and final exercise in October 2020 at the Anne Arundel County Fire Training Academy in Millersville, Md. Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, class sizes are limited and fill fast. Interested? Please visit www.aaacert.org.

Members Train To Use The Emergency Response Guide (ERG)

When we’re driving the highways and byways, we often see trucks with ominous signs that have numbers below the image. What do these signs mean? What should we do if there is an accident involving one of these vehicles?

Members of Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team recently attended a presentation on these hazard symbols and how to interpret the data on them. You can also understand these signs by downloading the Emergency Response Guidebook at the link provided below. The application works from both iPhone and Android platforms — search the App Store for “ERG.” The Guidebook is free and provides information on all the signs we typically see while riding the roads and rails. To learn more about CERT, visit our website at aaacert.org, where you can find information about becoming a member.

Members Take Traffic Training

AAACERT President Bruce Morgenstern and Coordinator Joe Dorffner prepare AAACERT active members for traffic control training.

Members of the Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) underwent Traffic Control training on Oct. 9, at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold. President Bruce Morgenstern and Coordinator Joe Dorffner served as instructors. Before the practical exercise, members attended a 1-hour virtual class. AAACERT members routinely perform traffic control at many sites around the County, both for special events, and particularly now for COVID-19-related emergency management tasks. Traffic control is just one of many volunteer opportunities available to AAACERT members during every season each year. To find out more visit www.aaacert.org.

Members Support Downtown Annapolis As Safe Health Practice Ambassadors

AAACERT members Joseph and Rosy Dorffner pause while serving Annapolis, May 30. Members Greg Burch, Joseph Whitworth, and Laurie Goodell (not pictured) also served that day in the state capital city.

Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) members are assisting the City of Annapolis in the downtown area as safe health practice ambassadors. While on their walks, the AAACERT members encourage downtown guests to maintain social distancing, avoid large groups, and wear masks. When they have masks available, they are also handing out face coverings and offering hand sanitizer to those who want them. AAACERT has no enforcement role while performing this function, though they are equipped with radios to maintain situational awareness or contact police, if necessary.

Being safe practice ambassadors is only one role AAACERT is serving right now. Members are also volunteering at the Anne Arundel County Food Bank in Crownsville, the County Donation Center in Odenton, the food drives in Brooklyn Park and Annapolis, and the county Office of Emergency Management call center in Glen Burnie. To date, AAACERT has supported the county with more than 1800 hours of volunteer service since the stay-home orders began in March.

‘They See The Smiles In Our Eyes’: Masked Volunteers Distribute Food To Families

AAACERT Coordinator Joe Dorffner, AAACERT President Bruce Morgenstern, Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, and Pastor Sheryl D. Menendez at the food distribution on April 27 at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis.

The City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management (OEM) tasked nine trained, certified volunteers from the Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) to support the city’s fire department, police, and police cadets during a food distribution to help families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic on April 27. AAACERT’s roles at the event, which took place at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center located at 237 Hilltop Lane in Annapolis, included traffic management and maintaining social distancing. Volunteers at the event all wore face masks and gloves as Personal Protective Equipment.

Pastor Sheryl D. Menendez of Light of the World Family Ministries and the nonprofit Restoration Community Development Corporation in Glen Burnie, who helped organize the event, said, “People lined up in cars for several blocks a couple of hours before we were scheduled to open. What does that tell you about how serious this issue is? So many people in need are determined to feed their families.”

After pausing for a photo with Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, AAACERT President Bruce Morgenstern, and AAACERT Coordinator Joe Dorffner, Pastor Menendez continued:

“To organize this food distribution in Annapolis, which we call Pantry on the Go, we partnered with Diana Taylor — the Senior Manager from the county’s Partnership for Children, Youth, and Families — as well as the Maryland Food Bank. We generally give out from 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of food. On a day like this, it was 8,000 pounds. We did a similar food distribution on April 16 at Whitmore Park in Annapolis.”

Ten AAACERT volunteers helped with traffic management and social distancing at the April 16 food distribution. To date, AAACERT has contributed more than 650 hours of community service in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

‘They can see the smiles in our eyes and in our body language. They hear the smiles in our voices. And that does a lot.’

Pastor Sheryl D. Menendez

“We also run a Maryland Food Bank pantry at our Brooklyn Park location, where we give out food every Monday,” said Pastor Menendez. “We’ve got another food distribution coming up in Bay Ridge Gardens off Forest Drive in Annapolis around noon on May 6. We have four events scheduled over the next four or five weeks.”

Unfortunately, the demand was so high that volunteers ran out of boxes of food and had to turn away a long line of families in need at least an hour before the event had been scheduled to close.

“I’m crying because we are not going to have enough food,” said Pastor Menendez. “We give out quality food, including fruits and vegetables, from the Maryland Food Bank; they get chicken, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, melons. And more than 25 restaurants provide pre-cooked meals through Feed Anne Arundel. This crowd-funded effort pays restaurants across Anne Arundel County to prepare nutritious meals for those in our community in need. Today, we received 600 prepared meals; two weeks ago, we got 1,000.”

How does food distribution make a difference?

“A lot of people for the first time find themselves without jobs, and there are some folks whose unemployment or stimulus checks have not come through yet,” said Pastor Menendez. “Even that’s not enough, because people have to pay rent. On top of that, our school systems are closed, so the kids are not receiving meals there. We are seeing how food insecurity is compounding mental health issues. People worried about feeding their families are experiencing an increase in stress, depression, and anxiety. So what we’re doing helps people on several levels.

“When people come out to receive food, they can’t see us smiling behind our face masks. But they can see the smiles in our eyes and in our body language. They hear the smiles in our voices. And that does a lot.”

AAACERT Volunteers Contribute 625 Hours to Coronavirus Pandemic Response

Twenty-five Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) members have contributed more than 625 hours of volunteer service to the county and to the City of Annapolis, supporting the response to COVID-19 in the past month. April is National Volunteer Month, a time to celebrate the work that volunteers do year-round.

AAACERT President Bruce Morgenstern said:

“I couldn’t be prouder of our volunteers for stepping up. We have shown our value to the community, and AAACERT volunteers are in demand — with recent requests to support food distribution in Annapolis (where we assist with social distancing and safety) and Brooklyn Park (where we assist with traffic management); to provide warehouse labor at the Anne Arundel County Food Bank in Crownsville; and our standing activities in support of a local shelter and assisting with traffic management at the Anne Arundel County Donations Management Center in Odenton. Plus, we remain on standby as emergency call takers at the county Emergency Operations Center.”

For each activity AAACERT supports, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available. AAACERT works closely with each sponsoring agency or organization to ensure that volunteers’ responsibilities are appropriate, safe, and well thought-out.

“While we perhaps are nearing or at the top of the curve for this crisis, the needs generated by it will last for some time,” Morgenstern continued, “and the expectation is high that we will continue to be called upon to serve our community.”

“We encourage CERT members to contact CERT Coordinator Joe Dorffner, who has done an outstanding job coordinating all of these activities, to let him know your availability,” said Morgenstern.

According to FEMA, the nationwide CERT program “educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. CERT offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks.”

AAACERT is a registered non-profit organization that trains volunteers in disaster response skills and emergency preparedness. AAACERT volunteers assist others in our community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. When activated under the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management, or the City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, AAACERT supports emergency response agencies.

Volunteer Opportunity – Homeless Shelter Support

NOTE:  THIS IS NOT AN ACTIVATION OR FUNCTION OF AAACERT.  IT IS A REQUEST FROM A NON-PROFIT FOR VOLUNTEER SUPPORT.
If you choose to volunteer, please follow the directions below.

VOLUNTEER ASSIGNMENT: Support to non-profit extended Homeless Shelter (Crownsville/Annapolis Area)
TYPE ASSIGNMENT: Type 2 Volunteer (Support to Non-Profit Organization with County assistance)
REQUESTOR: Arundel House of Hope (AHOH) (nonprofit organization)
REQUEST: One volunteer Shelter Aide per shift to assist Shelter Manager with water, coffee, snacks, phone, admin support, etc
LOCATION: Bay Area Community Church, 884 Chesterfield, Annapolis (Crownsville), MD
DURATION: Daily, Starting MON 3-30-20 through MON 4-13-20 

  • Three shifts:  Day 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM  Swing: 3:00 PM – 11:00 PM   Night: 11:00 PM – 7:00 AM of one Shelter Aide each
  • Supervisor: On duty Shelter Manager
  • First shift on MON 3-30-20 please arrive at 9:30 AM, Report to Arundel House of Hope Shelter Mgr Michael Johnson

RESTRICTIONS: Adult volunteers, male or female, age 18-64, no formal affiliation required, no prior training required, no personal protective equipment (PPE) required
SITE DESCRIPTION: Stable temporary shelter for 25 pre-registered, pre-screened homeless adults as an extension of the Winter Relief church-based program
 
PLEASE SEND VOLUNTEER INFORMATION TO COUNTY VOLUNTEER MOBILIZATION CENTER eoc@aacounty.org or call 410-222-0600
 
`Volunteer organization coordinators may call Jim Krempel at 410-299-4504 (cell) for more information 

  • “HOUSE OF HOPE SHELTER VOLUNTEER”
  • Name of Volunteer
  • Shift(s): DATE TIME
  • Contact Cell Phone    Contact email

Volunteer Organization or Church membership, if any

20 Twitter accounts we’re following on COVID-19 preparedness

When you hear something on social media about the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, it’s important to consider who is making the statement or suggestion, what they are asking you to do, and what is the evidence for their suggested course of action. During a disaster response, it’s vital to seek out trustworthy sources of information and help dispel rumors.

So here are a few of the Twitter accounts we’re following at @AAACERT for federal, state, county, and local news on COVID-19 preparedness in Anne Arundel County. This list is not intended to be comprehensive. However, if you’d like to suggest other trusted local sources of information on the novel coronavirus pandemic to follow, please email AAACERT Public Information Officer Jonathan Hutson, PIO@aaacert.org.

20 Trustworthy Twitter Accounts on COVID-19 Preparedness

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (@Steuart_Pittman)

Anne Arundel County Public Schools (@AACountySchools) Official Twitter account of Anne Arundel Co. Public Schools, 1 of the 50 largest school systems in the US & the 5th largest in MD.

Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management (@AACO_OEM) The Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management manages the County’s response to major emergencies.

Anne Arundel County Department of Public Health (@AAHealth) Official Twitter source for health updates.

Centers for Disease Control and Preparedness (@CDCgov) CDC’s official Twitter source for daily credible health & safety updates from Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

CDC Emergency (@CDCemergency) The handle for CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response (CPR). They tweet ways to #PrepYourHealth, and tips about public health preparedness and emergency responses.

CDC Emerging Infections (@CDC_NCEZID) NCEZID works to protect people from emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases, from anthrax to Zika.

City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management (@AnnapolisOEM)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (@FEMA) Their story of supporting citizens & first responders before, during, and after emergencies.

FEMA Emergency Management Institute (@FEMA_EMI) Official Twitter account of the Emergency Management Institute of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

FEMA Region 3 (@FEMAregion3) Region III serves DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, & WV. This channel provides FEMA mission-related information. For emergencies, call your local fire/EMS/police or 9-1-1.

Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan), 62nd Governor of the State of Maryland.

Health and Human Services (HHS), Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), Public Health Emergency (@PHEgov) PHE.gov provides information on disaster health preparedness, response & recovery.

Homeland Preparedness News (@homelandprep) Covering the efforts undertaken by government and private sector to protect citizens from the ever evolving threats to the homeland. Be in the know.

Maryland Center for School Safety (@safeschoolsmd) Providing a coordinated and comprehensive policy for school safety in Maryland in collaboration with schools, public safety, and parents.

Maryland Emergency Management Agency (@MDMEMA) Their mission: To proactively reduce disaster risks and reliably manage consequences through collaborative work with Maryland’s communities and partners.

Maryland Health Department’ Office of Preparedness & Response (@MarylandOPR) Prepares for and responds to public health emergencies and administers the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps.

Maryland Poison Center (@MDPoisonCtr) Providing free poison exposure advice to Marylanders 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222.

Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies (@disasterstrat) The mission of the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies is equal access and full inclusion for the whole community before, during & after disasters.

And please remember to follow and retweet the Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (@AAACERT).

AAACERT Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Anne Arundel – Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT), during the current COVID-19 situation, has been assisting the the Anne Arundel Office of Emergency Management in numerous positions. AAACERT trained members have been helping as Call Takers in the Emergency Operations Center, as well as helping assist the County Virtual Volunteer Mobilization Center (VVMC). Starting on the 30th of March, AAACERT trained members will also be assisting at the proposed County Goods Donation Warehouse, working with the County Police doing traffic control.

AAACERT trains volunteers in disaster response skills and emergency preparedness. AAACERT volunteers assist others in our community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. When activated under the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management, or the City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, AAACERT supports emergency response agencies.

Emergency Sanitation and Hygiene Training

AAACERT hosted its first online training via Zoom on March 25, 2020, on the topic of emergency sanitation and hygiene. President Bruce Morgenstern welcomed participants and explained that AAACERT is using this interactive video platform to practice safe social distancing during the pandemic of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The presenter, Public Information Officer Jonathan Hutson, thanked our corporate donors: Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, makers of the Cabela’s Easy Up privacy and shower shelter and Camp Commode camping toilet; home improvement store Home Depot; Rambler Wheels, makers of the Wild Stool emergency bucket toilet seat; and Lavario, makers of the Lavario off-grid, portable washing machine.

Hutson, who had been planning a training on emergency sanitation and hygiene for several months, and adapted some of the material in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, asked participants to imagine:

A hurricane knocks out the power grid for three weeks. Flood waters compromise public sanitation and water treatment facilities. When you flip the light switch, nothing happens. Your toilet won’t flush. You can’t get clean water from your taps. Public health authorities warn that local waterways are contaminated with bacteria, viruses, protozoa, heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and particulates.

Shelters are crowded. If you have the option to stay put, and if you prefer to shelter in place, then what is your plan to get clean water, practice safe hygiene, or go to the bathroom?

Hutson pointed out that sound, scalable solutions are available based on knowledge and experience from disaster response agencies around the world, public health officials, boaters, campers, hikers, hunters, RVers, and nurses.

This training, which AAACERT hopes to make available soon by video, shows safe, effective, practical, understandable, and affordable ways to get clean water to prepare a cup of hot coffee; make an easy, nutritious meal; and wash up. Demonstrations included: how to take a rinseless sponge bath with three ounces of water; how to clean your hands and shampoo your hair with no water; how to make an emergency toilet for $20 – and why your household needs two of these; how to keep your emergency toilets fresh-smelling and free of flies; how to safely dispose of your waste; how to find and store toilet paper alternatives; and how to put up a simple privacy screen. Beyond the basics, participants learned how to upgrade their emergency toilets; how to light them up without electricity or find them in the dark; and how to adapt them for people who are pregnant, recovering from surgery, heavy, or unsteady on their feet.

This training included practical applications for individual households, shelter workers, first responders, and search-and-rescue teams in the field. The hands-on demonstrations were followed by a question and answer period.

Products demonstrated during the training included:

Cabela’s Easy Up privacy and shower shelter, which is very sturdy and large enough to accommodate two emergency bucket toilets, and which can also be used as a shower tent or changing room

Yeti Loadout 5-gallon bucket for making emergency bucket toilets (one for liquids and another for solids)

Wild Stool toilet seat for Yeti Loadout and all 5-gallon buckets

Luggable Loo snap-on toilet seat for 5-gallon buckets

Cabela’s Camp Commode camping toilet, which can be used with heavy kitchen garbage bags or with Double Doodie toilet waste bags

Coconut coir bricks, which may be used in place of sawdust to eliminate odors and keep pests away from solid waste

Heavy-duty, biodegradable kitchen trash bags to line emergency bucket toilets

Strongtek toilet stool to aid toddlers in using emergency bucket toilets and to keep the lines to the bathroom moving faster

Cyalume Cyflect reflective, glow-in-the-dark tape with adhesive backing to help you find your emergency toilets and bedside commodes in low light conditions

Bedside-Care Spray no-rinse cleanser and Dry shampoo to keep clean while conserving water

Scrubbz rinse-free bath sponges that are light enough to carry in a backpack or store in a glove compartment for emergency hygiene when you need to take a sponge bath

Hibiclens antiseptic/antimicrobial skin cleanser to create an invisible film on your hands that keeps killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi for six or more hours

Compressed toilet tissues to store emergency toilet paper in your pocket, glove compartment, purse, or backpack

KennelSol germicidal detergent and deodorizer to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, to be diluted and used with a spray bottle for cleaning solutions to spray down delivery packages and canned goods, or to sanitize counters. You may also use it with a mop to sanitize floors.

Calcium Hypochlorite crystals for making bleach. One gallon of crystals will remain shelf stable for more than 10 years and make 10,000 gallons of bleach — enough for your whole neighborhood.

Lumin UV-C light cleaner for CPAP machines and PhoneSoap’s HomeSoap UV light cleaner to sterilize phones, N95 respirators, keys, flashlights, and other small gear using UV-C light.

Lavario portable clothes washer (enter code AAACERT for a 20% discount) to wash your clothes off-grid when the power is out.

Life Straw personal water filter for emergency hydration

Grayle Geopress 24-ounce water purifier

Royal Berkey gravity-fed water filter, 3.25 gallon capacity. A pair of Black Berkey Purification Elements (included) lasts for up to 6,000 gallons before needing replacement.

Iwatani single-burner, 15,000 BTU butane stove with easy, intuitive 8-ounce butane canister connection, heat sink to promote fuel efficiency, and safety features.

Thermos thermal cooker because cooking with retained heat can conserve 95 percent of your fuel.

AAACERT trains volunteers in disaster response skills and emergency preparedness. AAACERT volunteers assist others in our community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. When activated under the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management, or the City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, AAACERT supports emergency response agencies.

Annual Meeting and Elections — 2019

The Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) held its annual dinner and election on Nov. 20. Following the social time, President Paul Bowling acknowledged the current officers and committee chairs.

Offices/Officers:

  • President – Paul Bowling
  • Vice President – Bruce Morgenstern
  • Secretary – Rick Cooper
  • Treasurer – Paul Bowling (acting)
  • CERT Coordinator – Joe Dorffner

Administrative Committees/Chairs:

  • Communications – Jonathan Hutson (PIO)
  • Development – Vacant
  • Activities – Rosy Dorffner
  • Communications (Radio) – Erick Graves

District-Level Team Leaders

  • Northern District – Matthew Yates
  • Eastern District – Neal Anders
  • Western District – Randy Benninghove
  • Southern District – Amy Bleich

Operational Groups:

  • Search & Rescue – Randy Benninghove
  • Communications – Randy Sanger
  • Shelter Operations – Rosy Dorffner
  • Traffic – Joe Dorffner
  • Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Direct Support – Bruce Morgenstern

2019 Accomplishments

Bruce Morgenstern then highlighted AAACERT’s 2019 accomplishments:

  • 60 AAACERT members have completed the training required to be NIMS-compliant. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is a standardized, comprehensive approach to incident management that can apply to emergencies of all types and sizes. NIMS is intended to be both flexible to work in all incidents, and standardized, to provide a coordinated, efficient response to each incident.
  • AAACERT is approved to support Anne Arundel County Police directly for events. As a first step, AAACERT has provided assistance with the Pasadena Business Association’s Parade.
  • Fourteen AAACERT members are SARTECH III-trained. This means that they have completed the basic level of Search and Rescue Tech III training provided through the National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR), in order to assist with light search and rescue.
  • Three AAACERT members are SARTECH II-trained, which is the next higher level of search and rescue training.
  • AAACERT purchased a communications repeater to improve communications during large area events.

Membership Notes

Bruce noted the following numbers regarding membership:

  • There are currently 94 AAACERT members, of whom 48 are operational; five more await background checks.
  • 18 AAACERT members are traffic-management trained.
  • 16 AAACERT members have been trained for call-taking with the Anne Arundel County OEM.
  • 11 AAACERT members have been trained for call-taking with the Annapolis OEM.
  • 18 AAACERT members have parade marshal training.
  • 14 AAACERT members have SARTECH III training; 3 have SARTECH II.
  • 45 AAACERT members have met the participation hours requirement for 2019 as of Nov. 20.

Volunteer Hour Breakdown

Bruce then reported on how AAACERT volunteer hours have been spent in 2019.

  • 600 hours have supported AAACERT training.
  • 212 hours were logged for six parades.
  • Exercise participation accounted for 120 hours.
  • Volunteers put in 136 hours (plus 29 hours for bag-stuffing) for the Anne Arundel County Emergency Preparedness Expo.
  • AAACERT gave 46 hours to two SPCA events.
  • AAACERT was operational for 28 hours in one incident (the February winter storm) for call taking.

Background Check Status

Bruce reported on the status of background checks, which have been delayed in 2019. He noted that existing checks are not affected, though some will expire in Oct. 2020. However, from now on, the background check application will be online, with the fee to be shared between the county and the individual. Member cost is anticipated to be $8.50. Results will be shared with the applicant and OEM. OEM’s determination is final, and there are no appeals in the rare occurrence of a negative check.

Training Update

According to Bruce, the following training occurred in 2019:

  • There were nine monthly trainings, for a total of 279 hours, averaging 19 members per meeting.
  • AAACERT members took 666 hours of additional specialized training (call taker, traffic, etc.).
  • 46 adults completed Basic CERT training.
  • 34 teens completed Basic CERT training in two separate trainings.

2020 Plans

Bruce laid out the following 2020 plans and goals for AAACERT:

  • Formally affiliate with a Search & Rescue group(s).
  • Expand our support for the Anne Arundel County Police.
  • Pursue additional grant opportunities for operational needs.
  • Develop a strategic plan for the next three years, and begin development of tactical plans to meet our strategic objectives.
  • Empower the four district team leads (see above).
  • Create operational groups (see above).

Financial Notes

He advised the AAACERT members present that 2020 dues ($10) are due by Dec. 31. Dues and donations pay for AAACERT’s insurance, website fees, D4H, and administrative expenses. Any grants we obtain are focused on purchase of equipment and items.

Guest Reports

Jim Krempel, representing the Anne Arundel OEM, thanked all of the volunteers present for their service. He honored AAACERT member Erick Graves with a challenge coin for Eric’s exemplary work this year for AAACERT and ARES.

Dave Mandell, the Annapolis OEM Deputy Director, also thanked AAACERT for its continuing partnership with the city.

Lastly, Del. Mark Chang (D-Dist. 32) spoke on behalf of the Maryland General Assembly to thank AAACERT for its support of the 600,000+ residents of Anne Arundel County. He said the county has significant needs for emergency support, and that AAACERT plays a key role in meeting them.

Ham Radio

Paul announced that the AAACERT Ham radio net operates on the third Tuesday of every month at 442.3/107.2.

Elections

The group held elections for new officers. Paul Bowling will step down from the presidency in 2020, and Bruce Morgenstern will become the new president. Rick Cooper was re-elected as secretary. In accordance with the AAACERT by-laws, vacant/acting positions (Vice President and Treasurer) will be appointed by the Board at its December meeting. In late 2020, AAACERT will hold elections for the other positions on the board, namely Vice President, Treasurer, and CERT Coordinator.

Training for Response to Opioid Overdose

Open bottle of generic prescription medicine. Both prescription painkillers and street drugs contribute to the opioid epidemic in Maryland.

Both prescription painkillers and street drugs contribute to the opioid epidemic in Maryland. (Photo: Shutterstock.com/Leigh A. Williams)

On Oct. 16, Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) hosted Mr. Paul Bowling, who provided training on the Maryland Overdose Response Program. Mr. Bowling is a Physician Assistant with over 40 years’ experience in Trauma, Critical Care, and Emergency Medicine and is also involved in Healthcare Emergency Management. Mr. Bowling currently serves as the president of AAACERT.

Mr. Bowling noted that Anne Arundel County has a particularly high rate of opioid overdose deaths. Anne Arundel’s total deaths by opioid overdose in 2018 exceeded those of some of the neighboring counties in Maryland.

An opioid is any drug that contains opium or its derivative. The opioid crisis began in the 1990s with the free flow of these substances due to liberal prescription practices by providers and promotion by drug companies. Opioids can be either prescription medications or illegal drugs, and are ingested by various means. The most common opioids are the prescription drugs oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, morphine, and codeine; as well as the illegal drugs heroin and fentanyl.

Opioids vary in lethality per individual and circumstances. They are especially lethal for the elderly. Moreover, as opioids act on the brain, they become increasingly more toxic when mixed with another opioid, alcohol, benzodiazepines, and/or cocaine.

The effects of an opioid overdose can be reversed by naloxone (brand name Narcan). Naloxone reverses opioid overdose and restores breathing within a few minutes of being administered. It has no effects on a person who has not taken opioids (including the person giving it), so it is safe even if an overdose is mistakenly understood but has not occurred; moreover, the other side effects of naloxone for the person in overdose are minimal and rare. Naloxone can be given intranasally, intramuscularly, or intravenously. The drug onset is within 1-2 minutes, and it wears off in 30-90 minutes. Unfortunately, there are super-opioids on the street for which one dose of naloxone is not sufficient, so further dose(s) may be required.

Opioid overdose is characterized by several signs and symptoms. Like a person who is “high,” the victim’s pupils become very constricted (small). However, the victim may also display the following symptoms:

  • Loud snoring or gargling noises
  • A very limp body
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Pale or grey, clammy skin
  • Bluish lips and fingertips
  • A slow or erratic pulse
  • Slow, shallow, or no breathing
  • Unconsciousness

Due to the dangers of an opioid’s effects impacting the responder, it is imperative always to wear gloves when attempting to help the victim.

The following steps are recommended when responding to an opioid overdose victim.

  • Rouse and stimulate the victim by touching, shaking his/her shoulders, or (carefully) performing a sternal rub.
  • Call 911. *
  • Administer naloxone.
  • Perform further resuscitation. If the person is not breathing, or has shallow/short breaths, give rescue breaths (preferably with a barrier), or – if you are trained in CPR – chest compressions with rescue breaths.
  • Care for the victim until professional responders arrive.

*Administer the naloxone first if the person is unconscious; a second dose may be necessary after calling 911.

When administering naloxone, allow 1-3 minutes for the medication to work. If breathing is not restored after 2-3 minutes, give another dose, and continue resuscitation as necessary. Be sure to follow the 911 dispatcher’s instructions once you have called.

It is also important to stay with the individual until medical help arrives. S/he may feel ill or agitated or need to vomit. If the person cannot sit up, make sure they are in the recovery position (right side, arm supporting head, bent knee to support body). Help the person to stay calm, and encourage him/her not to take more opioids. Remember that a person “coming to” is often annoyed, confused, and/or combative, so be sure to stay alert and protect yourself.

If you administer naloxone, it is important to call the Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) within two hours after the event, as this entity tracks the lethality of various street drugs, where they are trafficked and used, and other key information about opioids.

Finally, if you respond to an opioid overdose in progress, be assured that you cannot be held liable for a good faith attempt to help someone. Under the “Good Samaritan” measures in the Code of Maryland, Health General, Section 13-3110, “an individual who administers naloxone to an individual believed to be experiencing an overdose shall have immunity from liability under Sections 6-603 and 5-629 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article.” Additionally, the Code of Maryland, Criminal Procedure Article, Section 1-120 states that, “a person who seeks, provides or assists with medical assistance for another person experiencing an alcohol- or drug-related medical emergency cannot be arrested, charged, or prosecuted for possession of a controlled dangerous substance; possession or use of drug paraphernalia; or providing alcohol to minors.” Moreover, calling 911 will not affect the parole or probation status of a person attempting to help.

Naloxone is available as a prescription from any licensed healthcare provider with prescribing authority or an authorized ordering, referring, or providing (ORP) entity that dispenses naloxone. Per statewide standing order, any person can obtain naloxone at a participating pharmacy. For a list of pharmacies that stock naloxone, visit the Maryland Department of Health Behavioral Administration’s information page.

AAACERT trains volunteers in disaster response skills and emergency preparedness. AAACERT volunteers assist others in our community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. When activated under the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management, or the City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, AAACERT supports emergency response agencies. For more information, visit www.aaacert.org.

By Laurie Goodell

Biological Incidents and the Role of CERT

Lab technician with gloved hands
A CDC scientist works in the lab to study the flu virus. (Photo: James Gathany/CDC).

Ms. Arlene G. Crow, Emergency Manager for Anne Arundel Community College, recently provided training to the Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) on the operational members’ potential role in a biological incident.

Ms. Crow began the session by outlining the various forms and categories of bio-agents that might trigger a need for prophylactic dispensing to the general public. Bio-agents can occur in one of three forms: bacterial, virus, or toxin. Bacterial agents are distinguished by, among other things, their ability to replicate cells independently. Viruses, however, cannot reproduce outside the host body. A third type of agent, toxin, is a potent poison with organic origin.

Bio-agents are categorized according to their ease of transmission or dissemination; severity of mortality potential; need for preparedness; and ability to threaten national security or day-to-day social functioning. Category A, the highest-risk agents, include anthrax, botulism, plague, smallpox, tularemia, and certain viral hemorrhagic fevers. Category B agents include ricin, salmonella, certain encephalitis fevers, waterborne threats such as vibrio cholerae, and others. Category C agents are those with an emerging pathway, and which could be engineered for harm to the public. These include influenza, rabies, drug-resistant tuberculosis, SARS, and others. Emergency managers must be prepared to respond to a potential outbreak of any category agent.

The next phase of the training focused on the origins and symptoms of Category A bio-agents that cause the highest threat to the public: anthrax, tularemia, plague, smallpox, and viral hemorrhagic fevers. Ms. Crow noted that nearly all of these agents’ initial symptoms are flulike, highlighting the challenge for medical responders and diagnosticians in determining exactly with what malady a patient may present.

In all cases of a potential bio-threat, health departments, in conjunction with emergency managers, would act swiftly to establish points of dispensing (PODs) to distribute prophylactic medicine from the Strategic National Stockpile on a large scale that could protect the public. PODs can be set up indoor, outdoor, or as drive-thrus. Ms. Crow noted the efficacy of drive-thru PODs due to their ease of use for the public, the police, and the medical community. She reminded CERT members of the need for logistical necessities for all who participate, either as customers or workers – i.e., a large space, full gas tanks, available bathroom facilities, food for workers, etc.

CERT members have an important role in the smooth functioning of a POD. Among the functions CERT teamers can carry out during a POD are traffic control/lane controllers; set-up and tear-down; administrative support; communications/runners; data collection; resupply; greeters; logistics; and, in some cases, even dispensing or assisting with the dispensing of medication.

For more information on bioterrorism and response, visit the Centers for Disease control (CDC’s) information page.

Members Assist Responders at Preparedness Expo

Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) members supported the annual Preparedness Expo on Sept. 21 at Marley Station in Glen Burnie. Arriving by 6:30 a.m. for the operational briefing, CERT members then took their stations to participate in traffic control, assisting vendors with set-up, directing vehicles within the perimeter, and helping to provide extra eyes and ears for general safety. Most of the CERT members stayed to work the entire event, including teardown, which concluded around 3:00 p.m.

The Preparedness Expo is a yearly event hosted by the Anne Arundel Office of Emergency Management to familiarize the public with the many functions and activities of the response community. At the 2019 Expo, more than 45 participating organizations provided displays of their skills, literature, gifts, and personal representatives to help individuals and families learn how to be ready for disasters and incidents. Exhibitors invited children to climb into vehicles to see the dashboards; animal handlers gave demonstrations of canine aptitude; and fire personnel gave live demonstrations of safety or extinguishing practice.

“You just don’t realize everything these [responders] do every day,” remarked one visitor in passing, “and we are so blessed to have them in our community.” She added her thanks to responders for their availability, time, and training.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security designates every September as National Preparedness Month. Visit the agency’s website to find numerous resources aimed at helping families be ready for any emergency or disaster they might face.

AAACERT trains volunteers in disaster response skills and emergency preparedness. AAACERT volunteers assist others in our community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. When activated under the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management, or the City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, AAACERT supports emergency response agencies.

Mental Health First Aid Course Informs Members

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT), in partnership with the Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency, recently hosted an instruction on Mental Health First Aid.

Mental Health First Aid is a national, 8-hour course that teaches people to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders.  Similar to the more familiar CPR and somatic First Aid courses, Mental Health First Aid teaches people to reach out and provide initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect persons at risk to appropriate care.

The applicable training course taught AAACERT members, Upper Marlboro CERT members, and others the common signs and symptoms of mental illnesses and substance abuse, how to interact with a person in crisis, and how to connect that person with the help that they need.

Per the instruction, if a person is determined to be in need of help, the helper should apply the “ALGEE” action plan:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen non-judgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Anne Arundel County boasts a robust mental health system that serves as a model to other jurisdictions across the country.

Crisis Response System – A 24/7 Warmline [(410) 768-5522] exists and can activate Mobile Crisis Teams; provide information, support, and referrals; and serve as a link to first responders.

Crisis Intervention Teams – A police officer and a clinician are ready to respond immediately to people in crisis, making sure they get the care they need.

Safe Stations – A person needing treatment for addiction can visit any police or fire station, at any time, to seek care.  The person is able to dispose of paraphernalia without fear of legal action and get the help they need.

Robust Training – Every police officer, dispatcher, and school nurse, as well as most school principals in the county, have received this training.  The Fire Department is next on the list to get fully trained.

Those that took the course gained substantial knowledge and resources to assist them handling a mental health emergency. Multiple students left with information on how to schedule the course with other organizations and groups that they are affiliated with.

For more information on the course, or to find a course near you, go to mentalhealthfirstaid.org.

Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) trains volunteers in disaster response skills and emergency preparedness. AAACERT volunteers assist others in our community following a disaster when professional responders are not immediately available to help. When activated under the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management, or the City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, AAACERT supports emergency response agencies. 

County Seeks Volunteers for Emergency Preparedness Assessment

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The Anne Arundel County Department of Health is seeking volunteers to assist its Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response in conducting a Community Assessment for Emergency Preparedness and Response (CASPER) on September 17 and 18, 2019.  The goal of this assessment is to determine the current status of preparedness in the county and to identify gaps in emergency preparedness and response knowledge and readiness.

Over these two days, teams will go out into the community and interview households using a questionnaire to collect data. The information collected will help inform our program and better address the needs of the community.

Dates: September 17 and 18, 2019. Volunteers may work one or both days.

Time: Just-in-time training will take place at 12:30 p.m. on September 17 at the County Department of Health, located at 3 Harry S. Truman Parkway in Annapolis. Volunteers unable to attend the training must participate in a conference call prior to participation in the CASPER. After receiving just-in-time training, MD Responds and CERT volunteers will be paired with Department of Health staff and assigned pre-determined neighborhoods to conduct the survey from approximately 3:00 p.m.-7:15 p.m.  Snacks will be provided.

Location: Volunteers will meet at the Lower Level Conference Room at the Department of Health before heading out with their assigned groups in a county vehicle. Groups will reassemble and return to this location at 7:15 p.m.

The CASPER will take place rain or shine. Volunteers should expect to be on their feet for a few hours, and be comfortable interacting with members of the public. Regular breaks will be offered.

Those interested in participating should contact Jessica Bangel (hdbang99@aacounty.org).