Montgomery County Community Emergency Response Team (MCCERT) received an honorable mention in the 2013 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards in the category for Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team Initiatives. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator, Craig Fugate, will award MCCERT with a Certificate of Accomplishment and recognize the volunteer organization on its website this September at http://www.ready.gov/citizen-corps-awards. Also, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region III, MaryAnn Tierney, has awarded MCCERT with an Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team Initiative Certificate of Recognition for their “continued efforts to make the state of Maryland and their communities’ better prepared and resilient to disasters through community outreach, education, and partnership.” Additionally, the State Citizen Corps Program Manager for Maryland Emergency Management Agency, Robert Ward, congratulated the volunteer organization.
On March 6, 2013, MCCERT successfully completed two initiatives in response to the snow storm that plagued the D.C. Region. MCCERT provided social media monitoring support at the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and developed and consolidated situational reports (SITREPs), proving trained volunteers are a valuable asset in times of emergency. Having trustworthy and credible sources to monitor social media platforms proved tremendously valuable to officials within the EOC. Also, MCCERT members from the confines of their home provided assessments on road conditions, weather conditions, and photos which all were essential to the day’s success servicing Montgomery County. Twenty-nine SITREPs were generated throughout 9 different zip code zones in the County. MCCERT Leadership is confident by promoting this successful effort to its members, future short-notice SITREPs will include a larger number of SITREPs, and wider area of locations throughout the County.
Social media monitoring unveiled several areas worthy to monitor – transportation-related matters, authoritative agencies, news and weather. Key takeaways from the March 6th snow storm included:
- Hash tags were as dynamic as contributors to social media
- SITREPS sent by different communication means emphasizing importance of redundancy (text, email, social media)
- MCCERT’s Twitter followers increased as a result of communications
- Similar future initiatives will require additional resources
- Backup virtual support should not be heavily relied upon operationally
Montgomery County CERT volunteers stepped up on to the tasks at hand and provided unique, first-of-its-kind support for the community utilizing an advancing technology. They are prepared to serve again.