Training Beyond Basics

Additional training beyond CERT Basic training.

Please Continue Turning Left

AAACERT President Bruce Morgenstern and Coordinator Joe Dorffner watch an active member of AAACERT practice traffic control.

Do they see me? Did they hear my command to stop? You should never assume the answer to these questions is YES. One of the more common tasks members of AAACERT participate in is traffic control. A group of AAACERT members underwent training on April 11, 2021, 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. Traffic control is just one of many volunteer opportunities available to AAACERT members during every season each year. To find out more visit

Members train in CPR, AED, and Basic First Aid

A member of AAACERT applies his newly learned CPR skills during the testing phase of the class.
A member of AAACERT applies his newly learned CPR skills during the testing phase of the class.

WHAT DO YOU DO? You’re at home, work, or simply grocery shopping. You hear screaming and see someone bleeding badly from the arm and a small cut on their head. Many people can freeze in a situation like this but those trained in life-saving techniques of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Automated External Defibrillator, and Basic First Aid (CPR/AED/BFA) can save a limb or even a life.

Members of Anne Arundel-Annapolis CERT (AAACERT) had the opportunity to train and become certified in an OSHA and Maryland state workplace requirements class. This basic course helped prepare members to recognize and care for people experiencing cardiac emergencies (heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke) and to properly operate an Automated External Defibrillator. Members also learned to recognize other common medical emergencies and know what to do when they occur — from sprains to massive bleeding.

If you are interested in this and other training opportunities, many free or at a substantially discounted rate, think about joining AAACERT. Visit our website to learn more at Or consider a donation to help our all-volunteer group continue its mission in supporting our communities.

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, 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

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.

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: 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

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.

Mental Health First Aid Course Informs Members


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

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. 

July Training: Managing Pets and Livestock during Disasters

On July 17, Briana Kracke of the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) shared overall principles of animal care and handling for owners and emergency managers in the event of a widespread disaster. Ms. Kracke is a Preparedness Planner for the OEM and holds several degrees related to emergency management, agriculture, and biosecurity.

Harsh Realities

The need for training in the area of animal and agriculture awareness is underscored by statistical realities: According to Ms. Kracke, 68% of U.S. households own pets, but 91% of those pet owners admit they are unprepared to care for their animals in the next natural disaster. Moreover, of all of the country’s economic sectors, agriculture remains the least protected from harm and malintent.

As with all emergency management, the care and protection of animals in a disaster should follow four phases. During preparedness, officials conduct planning, training (such as this one), and exercises. (A shelter exercise including fake pets will occur on July 31 at Anne Arundel Community College), as well as community outreach. The second phase is mitigation, during which education of the public occurs. Emergency managers assess potential hazards, and while the sun is shining, they make necessary improvements to infrastructure. The third phase is responding to the disaster itself. The number one priority during response efforts is incident stabilization and life safety, followed by (sometimes concurrent with) evacuation and mass care. Following the passage of the incident, the recovery phase begins. During the recovery phase, officials address economic recovery, management of debris, housing of the displaced, and longer-term health and/or social services for victims. 

Kracke discussed several aspects of agricultural biosecurity. Potential risks to agriculture in Maryland include disease, a radiological incident, agroterrorism, and natural disaster. Disease is an ever-present threat, requiring close coordination between farmers, emergency managers, and the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Program, which works to prevent and control contagious and infectious disease in the state’s livestock population. Moreover, the proximity of the Calvert Cliffs, Md. and Peach Bottom, Pa. nuclear plants means a radiological contamination of crops and animals remains a distant possibility. Agroterrorism, though unlikely, is also possible via a bioagent or insider attack.

Hurricane Losses

The most likely scenario to affect animal and crop well-being, however, is natural disaster. A strong storm, hurricane, or other event could result in contamination of water sources, the loss of harvest or livestock, an increased susceptibility to disease, and the destruction of key infrastructure, such as irrigation systems. Kracke discussed the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, which are (in this order): Katrina (2005), Harvey (2017), Maria (2017), Sandy (2012), and Irma (2017). During Katrina, more than 100,000 pets were left behind during evacuation, and approximately 70,000 died throughout the Gulf Coast. Harvey demonstrated the toll a severe storm can take on the livestock industry, affecting 1.2 million cattle in Texas and destroying almost $14 million in infrastructure.

Preparation is Key

The final portion of the evening’s training program focused on strategies for preparation. Small animal owners should, firstly, make a plan. Consider what could happen, and scheme your options for pet care if it did, knowing disasters can occur without notice. The following are some good starting points:

  • Keep a collar with current tags and other contact information for you on your pet.
  • Microchip your pet – one of the best means to ensure reunion with your pet if you are separated.
  • Purchase a pet carrier for each of your pets, and label each one with relevant contact information. *
  • Keep a leash and carrier for each pet near your exit.
  • Ensure you have proper equipment for all of your pets to ride in the car.

*A pet carrier for a cat must be large enough to contain a small litter box if it will be in a shelter area.

Pack for yourself and your pet. Consider the following for the latter:

  • Pet food
  • Fresh water
  • Prescription medications
  • Medical records
  • Registration documentation**
  • A recent photo of you with your pet
  • List of pet-friendly hotels
  • Proper identification tag for the pet (consider including both your name and that of a friend outside the area, in case you can’t be reached)
  • Information about the microchip
  • Documentation where to go, how to get there (the internet may not be accessible)

**If your dog, cat, horse, or other pet is a pure-bred or particularly high cash-value animal holding the registration papers may be key to reclamation.

For horses, also consider packing the following for each horse:

  • Coggins papers – used to test for a disease called Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA)
  • Vaccination records
  • Medical records summary
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Two-week supply of medication
  • Three-to-five-day food and water supply
  • A list of available hay/feed distributors
  • A list of alternative stabling options
  • Halter
  • Lead rope

Be sure to keep all paperwork in waterproof bags.

If you must shelter in place with your pet, be aware of the following considerations: The room must be pet-friendly, in that it is safe – preferably an interior space with no (or few) windows. Additionally, it should contain no toxic chemicals or plants. Endeavor to close off small areas where frightened cats could become stuck (such as in vents or under heavy furniture). 

After the Rain

Natural disasters present many challenges on many fronts for both humans and animals. It is important to remember practical, common sense safety skills when interacting with stray, lost, or unfamiliar sheltered animals during or after an event passes. Practice good hand hygiene, and ensure you have all of your vaccinations. Don’t let the animals lick your face or interact with other dogs or wildlife. Keep your pet or found pets on a leash, and be sure to report any bites you or they sustain to the proper authorities for examination and treatment. And, as always, don’t allow your pet or a found pet to drink or play in contaminated standing water.

For animal owners, pets are family members, and no one wants to leave a family member behind. In the wake of much human and animal loss during Hurricane Katrina’s devastating hit in 2005, emergency managers have become experts at helping pet owners to keep themselves and their pets safe. Proactively using the above and other available information, it is possible to weather the storm with your animals safely.

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.

CERT Members Complete SARTECH III Course

From June 21 to June 23, 2019, Anne Arundel – Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) hosted Search and Rescue (SAR) training, certifying members as entry level “non-wilderness” responders.  Thirteen AAACERT members and two CERT members from other counties are now certified as SARTECH III by the National Association for Search and Rescue.  This certification enables AAACERT to assist in SAR events, when requested by the appropriate authorities, as trained responders.

Over the course of the three days, CERT members learned about search philosophy, tactics, and operations; they also studied clue consciousness, SAR resources, land navigation, and lost person behavior.  Under the expert tutelage of Jim Jackson and Bill Heisterhagen of the DELMARVA Search and Rescue Group, participants received classroom training, passed a written test, and successfully completed a land navigation and field exercise.

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.

Photo: Instructors and Participants of AAACERT’s SARTECH III Course after the Final Evaluation (Photo submitted)

Monthly Training Focuses on Weather Hazards and Safety

On Wednesday, June 19, Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) training featured a presentation on Weather Hazards and Safety by Joseph Seborowski of the Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management (OEM). Seborowski, a trained meteorologist, is a Recovery Planner with the OEM.

Mr. Seborowski noted that Maryland’s location between the Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian Mountains, with the Chesapeake Bay in its midst, means that the state experiences nearly every type of weather phenomenon, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, flooding, tidal/coastal flooding, tropical storms/hurricanes, severe winter weather, enhanced fire threat, and extreme heat and cold. He discussed weather terms and tools, and outlined appropriate safety measures all citizens can take for each potential weather hazard. On its website, the OEM hosts the Citizen’s Guide to Emergencies, a great reference on how to prepare.

Maryland is prone to thunderstorms, he noted. Among the possible terminology weather watchers might encounter (Outlook, Advisory, Watch, and Warning), Seborowski noted that there are also six thunderstorm risk categories, ranging from “slight” to “high”; Maryland’s thunderstorms generally fall within the slight-to-enhanced range. The dangers that can accompany storms include microbursts – “punches” of wind up to 120 m.p.h. from the most intense part of the storm – and non-thunderstorm winds resulting from tight air pressure gradients between strong areas of low and high pressure. In all cases of wind, he noted the importance for safety of securing loose outdoor objects, moving to an interior room, being prepared for outages, and especially treating any downed wires as live and not approaching them. 

Lightning is an additional hazard from thunderstorms. Seborowski reminded the group that 98% of lightning casualties occur outside, and that even a pavilion is not considered safe shelter. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from an area of rain. Seborowski reminded CERT members of the “30/30 Rule”: Count 30 seconds after seeing lightning or hearing thunder – if you hear thunder, you are at risk; and wait 30 minutes after hearing the last rumble of thunder before emerging outdoors.

Flooding is a year-round threat in Maryland. Though it might be tempting to proceed because “you know the road,” never attempt to traverse water covering the road surface. A mere six inches of water can cause the vehicle to lose traction and be swept off of the pavement.  Additionally, the road may no longer be there.

Seborowski discussed the difference between tornadoes, funnel clouds, and waterspouts, and reminded CERT team members of basic tornado safety. A tornado is a funnel in contact with the ground, while a funnel that does not touch the ground is not a tornado. A waterspout is a tornado over water. Maryland typically sees three-to-four tornadoes per year, although that number may be increasing. Participants in the SKYWARN program assist weather authorities by reporting what is actually occurring in various locations, as the official radar stations are located in Sterling, Va., Dover, Del., and State College, Pa. As always, the key to tornado safety is to get quickly to a basement or interior room with no windows.

Next, Seborowski explained the difference between a tropical wave, tropical depression, tropical storm, and hurricane – all of which can affect Maryland. A tropical wave occurs when a long area of low pressure moves in an easterly direction across the tropics, potentially creating inclement weather. If winds move in a circular direction at speeds of 38 m.p.h. or slower, a tropical depression exists. A tropical storm is declared at windspeeds of 39 m.p.h. or higher, and a hurricane has wind speeds of 74 m.p.h. or higher. The 2019 Atlantic forecast calls for nine to 15 named storms, and four to eight hurricanes, with two to four of those being major hurricanes. Tropical storm/hurricane safety would seem to be common sense: Know your evacuation zone and evacuation route, have your supplies packed and ready to go, and stay abreast of updates from a reliable source.

The final Maryland weather hazard Seborowski discussed was extreme heat and cold. He directed the CERT learners to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Heat Index Table, as well as the National Weather Service’s Wind Chill Chart for reference. In heat, it is important always not to leave a person or pet in a vehicle, to seek air-conditioning and/or shade where it is available, to wear loose, lightweight clothing, and to remain hydrated. Contrary to some teaching, running a fan in hot temperatures does not cool the body, and consuming high-energy drinks can cause more over-heating. In extreme cold, remain indoors in heat, and remember to check on the elderly and pets. Wear layered, loose-fitting clothes, including – if outdoors – a hat and hand-covering (mittens are better than gloves!). Remember to keep your mouth covered and stay dry. Lastly, monitor your well-being while shoveling snow, as heart attack is common due to the extra stress on the system during that exertion.

Lastly, Seborowski described the three types of radar officials use to predict the weather for a geographic location. Base Reflectivity (BR) measures the type and location of precipitation. However, Base Velocity (BV) radar can tell users the speed of various patches of precipitation and where fronts may be colliding, providing some predictive capability for possible violent weather. The third type of radar is Vertically Integrated Liquid (VIL), which measures the total amount of water vapor in a column of air (and can be a good gauge of hail activity).

Seborowski shared many additional facts, and AAACERT learners got good answers to their many questions. Thanks to his thorough presentation, the team is now better informed about Maryland’s particular weather hazards and how to avoid the accompanying dangers those conditions might bring.

Photo: Potential tropical cyclones in 2019 are named by weather officials; Andrea has already passed. (Slide Source: J. Seborowski, AAOEM) 

Basic CERT Class – Late Spring 2019

On Saturday, June 8, 20 community members completed the Late Spring iteration of the Basic Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.  The three-day course included classroom training and practical exercises, and culminated in a full mass-casualty exercise.

The Late Spring 2019 AAACERT Basic CERT Course participants after the Mass-Casualty Exercise

One week prior, the students participated in a triage exercise, coming face to face with AAACERT members simulating injuries after a storm hit a classroom.  They quickly learned the value of the simulation, as they had to deal with patients who had been instructed by evaluators to be uncooperative.

In the June 8 exercise, the students were met with an entire compound full of simulated injuries; the victims in this drill were wearing moulage, courtesy of Kim Reyes, to make the simulation feel lifelike.  Simulating victims of a tornado, AAACERT members playing the role of victims were again displaying uncooperative, anxious behavior and doing their best to make it an authentic experience. The students successfully assessed the situation, evaluating and treating the victims, as well as handling unexpected scenarios the team staged.

Note: Some photos here are graphic and contain realistic (but simulated) injuries.

Anne Arundel and Annapolis CERT (AAACERT) hosts basic training multiple times per year. The course provides students with fundamental skills to respond to the community’s immediate needs in the aftermath of a disaster when emergency services are not immediately available. Alone, these basic skills allow people to help themselves, their families, and others. By working together, CERT members can assist in saving lives and protecting property using the simple techniques in this course.

More information about the next CERT Basic Training can be found on the website:

All photos submitted by volunteers and used with permission.

Monthly Training Explores Dangers of Improvised Explosive Devices

On Wednesday, May 15, Anne Arundel-Annapolis Community Emergency Response Team (AAACERT) President Paul Bowling conducted the group’s monthly training, focusing this iteration on CERT safety in incidents of improvised explosive devices and bombings. The training was held at Anne Arundel Community College.

Among the many new facts Paul shared with the group, he reminded attendees of their first priority – safety – per basic CERT training, when responding to an incident of any type. The group also reviewed the “RAIN” protocol for dealing with potentially damaging devices or substances.

R Recognize (Know that a device or substance may be dangerous.)

AAvoid (Leave the immediate area right away.)

IIsolate (Move yourself away from the suspected device, and try to keep anyone else from going near it.)

NNotify (Call 911, and tell the dispatcher exactly what you have found and where it is so the proper, trained authorities can come and handle the situation.)

Approximately 28 participants attended the training, which served as a model of inter-organizational collaboration. The group included members of AAACERT, Upper Marlboro CERT, Greenbelt CERT, and Berwyn Heights CERT, as well as Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) members from Prince Georges and Anne Arundel counties.

Photo: Instructor Paul Bowling shared some data collected by the New Mexico Tech Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center.

Amateur Radio Technician Class

The Montgomery Amateur Radio Club is offering a free, amateur radio technician license class at the Rockville Memorial Library on six Saturdays from March 30 – May 4, 2019 from 1200-1500 (12:00-3:00 p.m.).

This is a great opportunity to obtain an amateur radio license.

VE Test Session
There will be a Volunteer Examiner (VE) test session Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 1200 (12:00 p.m.).
For more information:

Please register by sending an email to
Training Location:
Rockville Memorial Library
21 Maryland Ave, 2nd floor
Rockville, MD 20850

Please note – two-hour, free parking is available with ticket validation in the library. Parking information is provided on the Rockville Memorial Library Website.

To learn more about amateur radio, also known as ham radio, view the National Association for Ham Radio’s website, or watch this short video, “Discovering Amateur Radio.”

New FEMA Course: IS-1160 Damage Assessment Operations Training

FEMA announced a new on-line course, “Damage Assessment Operations Training” IS-1160. Many CERTs are involved with their local OEMs in providing damage assessment as part of their regular mission. Even those who aren’t may benefit from the knowledge provided in this course.
This course will equip participants to conduct damage assessment in accordance with the Damage Assessment Operations Manual: A Guide to Assessing Damage and Impact.
Course Objectives:
– Describe the relationship between damage assessment and Federal disaster assistance
– Describe roles, responsibilities, and activities during each phase of the damage assessment
– Prepare to conduct damage assessment
– Conduct damage assessment for Individual Assistance (IA) and Public Assistance (PA)
– Evaluate damage and impact to the community

The estimated study time for this course is 8 hours. A FEMA Student ID is required for this course.

Wide Area Search Class

When disaster strikes, it can be a challenge to effectively mobilize, organize, and deploy resources needed to perform wide area searches. This course is an excellent training opportunity for any jurisdiction or agency that may face such an emergency. The course content applies to a vast number of critical situations, including natural disasters or terrorist incidents.

You will be instructed in practical search methods and skills so you can perform systematic searches over a large affected area. The training will include challenging exercises that mirror real-life scenarios. The three-day long event will conclude with an in-depth exercise that requires participants to utilize the skills gained during the course by working through an incident from start to finish in a single operational period.

The trainers delivering the course are knowledgeable—they are experienced emergency responders who have actively utilized wide area search techniques during some of the nation’s largest and most challenging operations, such as Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Gustav, and Rita; the Space Shuttle Columbia recovery operation; and many other incidents that required the same comprehensive strategies.

Class Date(s): 20 – 22 July 2018 (Three days)
Time: Registration @ 0730 on 20 July
Location: Anne Arundel County Fire Academy, Millersville, MD

The course is taught by experienced instructors from TEEX and paid at no cost by DHS/FEMA. However, there is a small fee of $15.00  to cover cost for snacks and drinks.

Click HERE for additional info and to register.

National Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Responder Training

TRAINING DESCRIPTION: A new coordinated, multi-disciplinary training
program, developed through the national Second Strategic Highway
Research Program (SHRP2), is being offered for all emergency
responders and those supporting Traffic Incident Management operations
– police, firefighters, EMS, state and local departments of
transportation, towing, and other incident responders.

The purpose is to promote a shared understanding of the requirements
for achieving the safety of responders and motorists, quick response,
and effective communications at traffic incident scenes, leading to a
safer, faster, integrated responder team and reduce secondary crashes.

DATE:  Saturday, 13 May 2017
TIME: 0800 – 1200
Location: Anne Arundel County Fire Training Academy, 415 Maxwell Frye Road, Millersville, MD

Register by using the link to the right.

Basic Disaster Life Support (BDLS) Training

Registration is now open for a Basic Disaster Life Support (BDLS) training being conducted specifically for Medical Reserve Corps members in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.

The class will be held on March 31, 2016 at the Prince George’s County Fire Service Building at 6820 Webster Street in Landover Hills, from 8:00am until 5:00pm. Lunch will be provided.

Register soon, as space is limited. Please let Ms. Molineaux know if you have any questions.

Call Taker Training – Wednesday, January 20th

AAA CERT members,

The Emergency Operations Center is hosting Call Taker Training ahead of the potential storm later this week.

When: January 20th from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: EOC

Purpose: Review call taker procedures, phone usage, WebEOC, and general EOC information.

Please contact Chrissy Calp at ASAP if you are available to attend to save your seat and she will send you directions to the office.

As you are probably aware the area is under threat of a severe winter storm expected to impact the area January 22-23, which could have significant snow totals. We will have better forecasts for impact as the week moves forward, and will share that information with you. OEM is beginning to plan for an EOC activation starting Friday, Jan 22nd, assuming the worst.

Therefore, if activated we will need your support as call takers to help field resident’s calls.

CERT Instructors Graduate the Train the Trainer Program


Graduating class of CERT Train the Trainer at the Anne Arundel County Fire Training Academy, 20 December 2015. Anne Arundel - Annapolis CERT sponsored a CERT Train the Trainer course to prepare participants to teach the Basic CERT course. The three day class, taugh by Chief Michael O'Connell, was held at the Anne Arundel County Fire Training Academy in Millersville, Maryland. Pictured left to right: Paula Hughes (Clinton CERT - Prince George's County), Bruce Morgenstern, Carlos Gonzales, Chief Michael O'Connell (Division Chief AAFD / Director, Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management), John Schirrippa, Mona Grupp, Rick Cooper, Paul Bowling (not-pictured).
Graduating class of CERT Train the Trainer at the Anne Arundel County Fire Training Academy, 20 December 2015.
Pictured left to right: Paula Hughes (Clinton CERT – Prince George’s County), Bruce Morgenstern, Carlos Gonzales, Chief Michael O’Connell (Division Chief AAFD / Director, Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management), John Schirrippa, Mona Grupp, Rick Cooper, Paul Bowling (not-pictured).

Anne Arundel – Annapolis CERT sponsored a CERT Train the Trainer course to prepare participants to teach the Basic CERT course. The three day class, taught by Chief Michael O’Connell, was held at the Anne Arundel County Fire Training Academy in Millersville, Maryland.
The seven new instructors brings the Anne Arundel – Annapolis CERT Basic Instructor cadre to sixteen. We are looking forwarding to providing more Basic CERT classes in 2016.