After several years of playing victim actors for Fairfax County's many Community Emergency Response Teams, GW Community School students and their principal decided to become a certified CERT team themselves!

Community Emergency Response Teams serve as immediate responders in mass casualty incidents such as earthquakes or tornadoes to provide safety and security when first responders are delayed.

Led by James Sobecke, and assisted by several longtime CERT instructors, GWCS's CERT class 106 began in late January 2016. The course was rigorous and included the study and practical application of search and rescue, triage and treatment of victims, identification of structural dangers, victim transport, fire suppression, incident command and reporting and much more.

The class culminated in a three-hour final exercise that put their skills to the test. Team 106 assembled at school at 0730 on the morning of ***. They had no idea of where they would be directed or the nature of the disaster they were about to face. After the team assembled and geared up they headed out to a neighborhood "devastated by a tornado."

In teams of two they reported to Incident Command and were assigned duties for search and rescue missions and medical operations. In all they managed well over 20 very convincing victim actors in full moulage. All victims were found, transported, treated, and monitored until the fire chief arrived on scene and was debriefed.

The chaos and confusion was real for Team 106, but their months of training and practice paid off. Team members remained calm and cautious as they completed their exercise.

Dirty, exhausted, and running on adrenaline, Team 106 returned to school for a hard won celebration of a successful exercise. Each team member passed the course and now proudly holds the title of CERT.