Charlottesville-UVA-Albemarle County CERT Prepares for Disaster with Exercise

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- The Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, in Charlottesville and Albemarle County put its skills to the test Thursday, May 29,  in an exercise with some live bodies. It’s all a part of preparing for a real catastrophe.

"Today is more of a freak severe weather event that's come through," said Allison Farole, CERT Coordinator.

She was able to use some local Boy Scouts to help.

"We have some victims that are [covered in makeup] and will be roll playing a scenario where CERT volunteers are going to come out and respond,” said Farole.

The communication was a little tough as it was mainly over text message.

There were four groups spread over a dozen acres to find and recover the injured, sick and dead.

Richard Nuckolls has been a CERT member for over a year, and learns a lot from these hands-on events.

"There's some waiting while organization occurs at the beginning of the incident,” said Nuckolls. “But it's very important to get the organization right so that our communication flows really well."

After a few slip ups, the teams got it together and recovered all the people.

"It's incredibly enlightening and empowering to do an exercise in the field with actual bodies; people who might have an injury," said Nuckolls.

The CERT program is a nine-week course that runs through the Charlottesville-Albemarle Office of Emergency Management every fall and spring. The course is completely free and they do fieldwork just about twice a year to stay sharp in case of an emergency.