COVID-19

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.

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.

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.