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 Summer 2004                                              Volume 6   Number 2

CERT members Patrick Darby (right) and Justin Nash 
direct search and rescue groups during field exercise.

Jay Callan, Emergency Plans Officer, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

In September 2003, Tom Hennessey, George Mason University’s Chief of Staff, directed the Safety Office to investigate the possibility of establishing a CERT on the George Mason campus.  His suggestion was a response to the numerous members of the campus community who were looking for ways to “get involved” in the University’s safety and security.  A campus-wide recruiting effort resulted in close to twenty faculty, staff, and students enrolling in the initial training class.   A group of 11 individuals finished the initial CERT training with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in March 2004.

 “It has been a pleasure to watch the CERT program at George Mason grow from an idea into reality” states Keith Bushey, VP and Chief Safety Officer

Organizing a CERT group for a university such has George Mason has its unique challenges.  George Mason University, the fastest growing university in the state of Virginia, consists of three campuses located in Northern Virginia, a student population of 28,000 that includes a resident population of 3500 on the Fairfax campus, and approximately 3,900 faculty and staff.  Externally the university takes on the appearance of a small town as it has similar support facilities such as restaurants, banks, a Performing Arts center, its own police force, aquatic center, and a bookstore. The Fairfax campus has over 125 buildings serving this ever-growing population sprawled across 677 acres, and in 2003 the university had 1.5 million visitors.

Though still in its infancy, this university group has demonstrated much energy and enthusiasm. They have new responsibilities, and the team members are busy organizing themselves and understanding how the team fits into the university environment.   “I am especially impressed by both the caliber and dedication of the first group of volunteers.  These individuals represent a cross-section of the Fairfax Campus community and contribute a wide range of experience and talents to the group.” states Keith Bushey.  The group members bring together a diverse background—former EMTs, ski patrollers, nurses, students, faculty—but all are people who just want to help.

CERT members Richard Jackson (right) helps transport a victim 
from and overturned railway car during the field exercise.

Since the completion of the training, they have attended a one-day mass casualty training session with other Fairfax County CERT residents at the Fire and Rescue academy. The university was quick to involve the group in campus activities: working First Aid and Mobile Command for the University’s annual spirit day—Mason Day—and helping with the Annual Emergency Exercise sponsored by the Safety Office. They are busy planning additional training sessions with the University emergency operations team and Fairfax County CERT trainers. The team is addressing additional needs for more in-depth training in first aid and other CERT-related skills.  The CERT group meets regularly to “hash out” organizational needs.

CERT members Doris Rollins (left) and Jeannie McNeil 
treat a victim during the field exercise.

“I look forward to watching the team members apply their skills and training in support of various events at GMU and should we ever need them in an emergency, I have no doubt they will be ready.” states Keith Bushey. The George Mason CERT web site is at


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