Leadership Forum on Community Preparedness
We are indebted to Rob Farr of Channel 31 Arlington cable TV for this transcript, which they prepared for the closed captioning for their coverage of this event.
Jim Pebley:Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to this special meeting of the Arlington County Civic Federation. I appreciate everyone joining us tonight. It is a tradition of the Civic Federation now that we begin each one of our meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance, and it will be my honor tonight to lead us in that.
So if everyone would please rise and face the flag.
[The Pledge of Allegiance is recited by the group]
Jim Pebley: It is a real honor for the Federation to be hosting this Leadership Forum on Community Preparedness. That's because of the caliber of you, the audience, and our speakers tonight. I would like to take a second, if I could, just to introduce a couple of our distinguished guests here tonight who honored us with their presence. I am sure I am going to miss a couple, but I promise I'll get to everybody throughout the night. First, from the schools, I'd like to introduce School Board Chairman Mary Hines and School Board (Mary, thank you) and School Board member David Foster. Thank you for joining us. I'd also like to introduce Chief Ed Plaugher, the chief of the Fire Department.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight and we'll be introducing some more of our guests in just a second. I'm going to be getting the list of everybody that's arrived after just a little while.
It's my job here tonight to get things rolling and to provide a backdrop for this meeting, and I'll try to do my best. Eight months, eighteen days, and just about 12 hours ago, Arlington, Virginia, became the front line on the battlefield on that first day of the War on Terrorism. Our county's emergency responders performed magnificently despite they were confronted with
the chaos of an unexpected calamity. Within minutes the entire region's public safety infrastructure pulled together and became totally committed to saving the Pentagon. If there were any major problems that occurred that day, from my point of view they were
associated with the ritual evacuation of the federal government and the attendant confusion on the part of our community about what to do. Many bridges and major roads were closed to traffic.
The parents of school children were faced with a dilemma.
Many didn't know whether to pick up the kids or leave them in the schools. The fact of the matter is while the county used Channel 31 on cable, and its website to disseminate information, many of our citizens didn't know to look there. By and large we citizens were bystanders, with every fine will to play and few notions about what to do regarding our neighborhoods. By good fortune, we came through this crisis in good shape, mainly because the disaster was localized at the Pentagon and because of the rapid and effective efforts of our emergency responders.
Will there be another disaster in Arlington someday? I think so.
And the only thing we know for sure is that we don't know what form it will take. But between the whims of nature and the consequence of our location here in the Nation's First
Suburb, we can expect to deal with a spectrum of possibilities ranging from a paralyzing ice storm or a major chemical spill to the more remote possibilities of attack of a radioactive "dirty bomb" or the release of a deadly pathogen. All of these demand that we take the lessons from September 11 and try to improve our
community's readiness. Today I can say with assurance that our county emergency services are making rapid and significant improvements to our ability to react to a new catastrophe, but we need to make some little progress in better preparing our citizenry to deal with another disaster. And that is why, as Federation President, I agreed with our Public Services Committee on their concerns about the need for the Federation to cooperate with the county to help prepare our citizens. Little did I know just how energized our delegates Kim Smith, Jackie Snelling, and Ann Fisher would become. This trio have rapidly become conversant in all facets of community preparedness, mainly by talking to FEMA, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and with an awful lot of help from Arlington's fine police. In return, they become de facto county resources on the subject. What our committee determined was that we need to find better ways to communicate with citizens, better ways to educate them about how to respond, better ways to motivate them to prepare their homes for disasters, and how better to help one another when emergency personnel are tied up responding to a disaster scene. And one of the best ways to organize this effort is through the nation's new Neighborhood Watch Program.
I sincerely hope that by the end of this evening that you will agree that we need to become better prepared leaders to put in place to myriad based plans and to work to become closer knit and
disaster resilient neighborhoods. If that's what you take away from tonight, then we will have made great strides, and hopefully the names Penn, Given, Tucillo, Chaferone and Snelling will become Arlington's resources for becoming better prepared, better organized and better networked. And so we are here tonight to start a dialogue we hope will result in making our communities
more disaster prepared, and I would ask you, please, those materials that Kim Smith has so carefully gathered together, taken from the back dock of FEMA, heisted from the Red Cross,
borrowed from the Salvation Army these are pretty precious sets because we have just enough for one copy for each of you.
So take them back to your neighborhoods. Please show them, and if you need more copies, I'll give you Kim's phone number later.
All right. Before I finish, I need to announce that the County Manager, Ron Carlee, regretted that he could not be here tonight.
However, he asked me this weekend to read a letter or portions of a letter to the Civic Federation that you should all have been given with your packets. I'll abbreviate the letter quite a bit because my time is running short and I know Jackie is getting
nervous. Essentially, it said, "Dear Jim: I regret that I cannot attend the Civil Federation's Leaders' Forum on Emergency Preparedness. I am fulfilling a long-standing commitment to share the lessons of 9-11 at a conference of Pennsylvania City and County Managers." Ron then went on in the letter to praise the performance of county emergency workers on 9-11 and endorsed the need for better community preparedness, reiterating what we all hope to say here tonight, and that is to enhance emergency preparedness by the public at large, we need to enhance communications with the public. We need to insure public awareness of emergency communication procedures, and we need to
provide the public with a greater understanding of how to prepare for and to respond to different emergency scenarios.
Ron concluded by saying, "Civil Federation's Leaders' Forum provides an excellent opportunity to initiate these objectives" and finally, Ron asked me to announce, and we are real proud to be announcing this, the formation of a Public Preparedness Planning Group. He noted that the County Board has approved an additional position for emergency coordination to especially focus on public preparedness. This planning group will be charged with developing recommendations for the creation of a model
public preparedness program. Ron Carlee has asked Jackie Snelling of the Civic Federation to chair this 60-day effort with staff
leadership from Claire Halsey of the Fire Department. The manager also noted that he has invited the Arlington County Disability Commission, the Chamber of Commerce, the County Council of PTAs, the Interfaith Council, and the Red Cross and the United Way to participate as members in this planning group. The Police Department and Department of Human Services will provide additional staff leadership. The purpose of the planning group is to recommend the structure for ongoing public
preparedness, for an Ongoing Public Preparedness Council, including the mission, the membership, and the initial work along with their timelines. Ron concluded by saying, "On September 11 Arlington demonstrated a world class response to
the Pentagon. We must sustain that capacity while extending it to the full community. The leadership of the Civic Federation in this effort is greatly appreciated."
Well, I wish Ron was here to thank him, but I'll do that the next time I see him. Now, as we start our program, I'd like to add that due to a tight schedule, we won't be taking any questions during the presentations please. If you have a question, please write it down. There are spaces on some of your programs, and I believe on the evaluation sheets. We're going to try to answer some of those questions later. We will have a 20-minute question and answer period and we'll follow the regular Civic Federation procedures.
Having said that, it is now my pleasure to introduce our first speaker, Capt. Mary Gavin, the Commander of the Second Police District. Capt. Gavin is a 17-year veteran of the Police Department and will be speaking about the new Neighborhood Watch Program. (Applause)
Capt. Mary Gavin: Thank you. On behalf of the Chief and the Deputy Chiefs, I would like thank you for inviting us here tonight. I'd like to first off start with introducing some of the other department employees here from the Police Department, so you will have an idea when you go into the breakout sessions who is here as far as resources for questions to be answered.
All of the four district commanders are here. The First District being Lt. Paul Larsen, if you would stand. I am the Second District Commander. The Third District Commander will be Michael Dunn, over here in the corner. And the Fourth District Commander will be Lt. Karen Hirshimoto. Also tonight, it was requested that Capt. Rebecca Hackney come. Becky has become the Commander of the Emergency Communications Center, which as you probably know, when you call 911, that's who answers the phone, so that will be like our first line of defense. So that's very important.
And last, but not least, you have Deputy Chief Steve Hall here, who is the commander of the Systems Management of the Police Department. Chief Flynn couldn't be here with us at this moment he has a Citizens Police Academy going on as we speak.
Today earlier, I got an email from Jackie Snellings and I've been talking to her throughout the week about what is it that we needed to relate here tonight, or what did she want me to talk
about. And she, for the most part, wanted me to give you a history as to what the Neighborhood Watch means to Arlington and basically a definition of community policing. So I thought long and hard on that. As you read the papers these days, as Jim had said, everything that we read and talk about often times relates back to 9-11. And I think a lot of our perspectives in lives changed maybe as a police officer, as a parent, as a
citizen in the community, our focus changed on 9-11.
We'd never experienced something like that. And I think the focus in the Police Department, and probably in the Fire Department changed. And I think Jim may be wrong in one thing that he did say is that the first line of defense was the police and fire, and quite honestly, the first line of defense was the community.
The community came out. They called 911. They were the first ones that identified this issue.
And basically, that is what the Neighborhood Watch is all about. Neighborhood Watch goes back. I know we had a fairly strong community network in the mid-eighties, '85. We did a lot of reaching out to certain civic associations. The Police Department was organized around three shifts: daywork, evenings, and midnights. We were organized in and around a community resource section which was a small cadre of officers that were assigned in the schools, and they, too, were liaisons in the civic associations. They managed our Neighborhood Watch Program.
In 1997, I believe, when Chief Flynn came in November of 1997, he led a vision for this department to move into a community-based problem oriented community policing. And the definition of that it's hard to really define but for the most part what it is a pond approach in that you try to get the community involved in solving their own problems and trying to get the department organized in and around the community. So back in 1998, June of 1998, after a long, extensive study of the Police Department, we
reorganized the department in and around districts where District Commanders, which we all have here tonight, are responsible for those police districts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Additionally, they are allotted resources that are also accountable to that district 24 hours a day,
seven days a week.
So your department as a whole went towards being more responsive to the community. And in that there were communities a lot more responsive to us. We've gotten a lot more feedback from the community and on the whole, I would say job descriptions have changed. Being a lieutenant in the Police Department then in 1997 is much different than it is now.
I would say, quite honestly, I have a lot more feedback from the community, and that's what it is really all about.
Now sometime between 1985 and 1997, we really did lose touch with the Neighborhood Watch concept in that initially we were going out into the community as Community Resource Officers
(and I was one back then) and we were setting up Neighborhood Watches based on 70% of a certain block wanted to have a meeting and they wanted to keep their neighborhood safe. And in doing that, we'd go in there, we'd talk about crime prevention and how we could prevent someone from breaking in our house or taking advantage of our street. We got quite a bit of good response from that, and it was the way we went at that time.
But there was not that 24-hour, seven days a week responsibility that you have now. Also, what was happening, I think, was that once you got numerous neighbors, and we did newsletters here and there, we started to lose touch with some of them. Oftentimes with transitions in Arlington may be from the North side some people moving out and the construction all around the county, we were losing Neighborhood Watch people and we would put out and reach out and it would be gone. So the turnover was tremendous.
So in 1998 when we reorganized, we really reorganized around the civic associations and that became our means of communication.
I'm very fortunate in the Second District. For one thing, I have Jackie Snelling. And secondly, I have nine civic associations that are fairly active. And in that I have three alliances with the Clarendon Alliance. I've got the Rosslyn Renaissance and the Ballston Partnership. So we have a tight network here in Arlington County, and I can tell you we have a tight network
here in Arlington County because it was defined on 9-11 when we responded to the Pentagon and then the community supported us.
I can't tell you and I know the Arlington Fire Department will tell you, the outreach from the community they didn't sit in their houses and not respond. I can't tell you how much food and support that we received from the community. The little things that happened in the Fourth District at Station 5 when they would come in and they'd clean up after us. Now that sounds like a little thing, but when you're there 24 hours a day, or you're here 18 hours a day and somebody comes in and just picks up a little bit after you and helps you out, it meant a
great deal to us.
And that basically gets down to the point of what is the role the civic associations play in this
Neighborhood Watch? Civic associations, for the most part, are a big group that we deal with
and we have liaisons that we talk with.
What I would ask from you all tonight is to reach out, divide the civic associations up into smaller
groups, and it becomes more powerful with the Neighborhood Watch.
The first line of defense is going to be Neighborhood Watch in the fight on terrorism, and the
fight on common crimes.
Most of the crimes that we are solving here today, or any old day, are call-ins from the
community, so that will be our first line of defense.
And with a tighter network, with a larger network, with you getting more information, and as Ron
Corley has stated in his letter, with better communications, raising the bar from 9-11, we're going
to be a better community for that.
Unfortunately, Jim's probably right.
We will probably have another incident occur in Arlington.
But I can tell you, we're ready.
We've had calls from jurisdictions all over the country as to what did you do and how did you
respond, and when we go out we tell them exactly what happened and the lessons learned.
They are very appreciative and they have a true understanding that, gosh, you guys were ready.
And we were ready because we do the little things right, and reaching out to the community, I
think, was the big one.
So, I think all of the District Commanders would join me in saying that we are enthusiastic in
trying to get this started, rejuvenated, the Neighborhood Watch concept.
I think it's a perfect marriage with community policing, and I'm looking forward to the breakout
sessions if you have any questions.
Jim Pebley: Well, thank you Captain.
And I didn't mean to sound like we all stood by and didn't know what to do, but I know a lot of
us weren't sure what to do and kind of had to ad lib.
And I think there was an awful lot of good ad libbing going on through the committee.
While I am introducing our next guest, who will be Capt. Mark Penn, who is a 28 year veteran of
the Fire Department and is currently assigned as Deputy Emergency Services Coordinator for the
Capt. Penn will be talking about the comprehensive emergency management plan and while he is
coming up here and getting ready, I would like to take just a second to, as I promised, introduce a
couple more dignitaries whom I have managed to spot through these old eyes in the audience.
I'd like to thank County Board member Jay Fisette for joining us, right back over there.
Also, County Board member Barbara Favola, no hat this evening but we recognized you anyway.
And sitting next to her is County Board member Charles Monroe.
You have to stand up Charles.
It's a Civic Federation tradition.
Thank you very much.
And I'd also like to thank former Delegate Judy Connally for joining us.
I know that she's going to be playing an important role in some of the things we're doing for
preparedness, so thank you for coming.
And I will get to some more names as I go along, and if nothing else, Jackie will remind me.
Okay. Now, Capt. Mark Penn.
Capt. Mark Penn: Thank you, Jim.
Please excuse me and bear with me while we get this Power Point started.
(Pause) Before we go into just a short Power Point slide program.
We want to keep it short so we have more time for questions.
I think that's going to be more powerful.
But tonight I just want to give you a brief overview of the county's Emergency Management
Plan, how it is prepared and a little bit of how the county is organized for comprehensive
The county's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan is the foundation of our plans for
response during a disaster.
It's been developed, actually I believe the first rendition was 1956, on an all-hazards approach,
meaning that when you develop a plan like this, you look at your community and see what its
risks are based on its history, based on neighbors history, based on data that you may have, and
you build your plans around that, as well as experiences that you may have or others may provide
to you as well as assumptions.
In all plans of this magnitude, and probably all plans anyone has are built on assumptions.
Obviously, on Sept. 10 we had many assumptions, and on Sept. 12, and since then, we have many
So our plan has been changing and evolving based on our assumptions and on our experiences.
I think that Jim actually mentioned it, that if we look at Arlington County in our experience, those
of us who've been around for awhile, that we probably generally look at things like major
snowstorms or ice storms as the kinds of disasters we typically experience.
Our plan is built around that kind of model, but we certainly have prepared for many years for
terrorism and many other things that we may face.
Unfortunately, this is a short program of slides, but you all do have a handout.
This is the organizational chart of our Emergency Management Team.
It kind of lays out all of the different things, and I'll just go through it very quickly.
The Director of Emergency Services for the county is our County Manager, Ron Carley.
The Coordinator of Emergency Services is the Fire Chief, Ed Plaugher.
The Deputy Coordinator of Emergency Services is myself, and we are pleased to announce, and
Claire would you please stand up, our new, for the time being (We don't have a title for her yet.),
our Assistant Deputy Coordinator of Emergency Services, Claire Halsey.
(Applause) And Claire is going to be working with the citizens and on Jackie's committee, and
we're very excited about that.
Under that particular structure, we have the Emergency Management Team.
The Emergency Management Team is how Arlington does its management of disasters.
These are really the core group of folks that come together and sit down and make the decisions.
That's led by our Assistant County Manager, John Marcett Mooney, our Superintendent of
Schools, Dr. Robert Smith, our Police Chief, Ed Flynn, our Fire Chief, Ed Plaugher, our Director
of Public Works, Sam Kim, and our Assistant County Manager for Public Affairs, Richard
We also have task groups that are assigned to emergency management, and these are some of the
folks that do the real down to earth planning and down to earth work during a disaster.
They don't get a whole lot of recognition, and quite frankly, some of these folks, you wouldn't
believe the amount of work they did from September 11 for quite a few weeks.
We have the Emergency Planning Team, which is basically senior county employees that keep the
plan up to date and also during a disaster, they do long range planning for us.
The Resources Task Group, which provides the resources to our emergency responders.
The Shelter Task Group, which is put together to provide shelter when needed.
The Employee Support Task Group, which is unique to Arlington. No one else seems to have this
in their plan, and we're very proud of that, so we can provide support to our employees, including
critical incidence stress management.
A Communications Task Group, which is for communicating with the public as well as with the
employees, a Recovery Task Group, and a Transportation, Routing, and Traffic Task Group.
A unique organization, kind of unique to Arlington, a little bit different and we're actually very
proud of it.
The Director of Emergency Services, the County Manager, manages and directs all the county's
response during disaster.
If you think about 9-11, that was really a localized event.
If you think about larger events, let's say an earthquake in California, you can see that there
would be many incidents that the emergency managers would have to manage and so you would
need this high level of comprehensive plan to do that, to manage more than one incident.
And that's what this is kind of built around.
The Coordinator of Emergency Services is the Fire Chief.
He coordinates all of the departmental responses during disasters and oversees the ongoing
planning efforts and mitigation efforts.
The Deputy Coordinator does the day to day emergency management functions, coordinates with
a lot of the regional partners and agencies, and also develops exercises to test our plans.
In an Emergency Management Team I described, they coordinate the response and recovery
during the disaster.
Emergency Planning Team maintain our comprehensive emergency management plan.
They coordinate the planning for all the task groups as well as the departments.
Within our county plan, each department has a sub plan that says what the department will do.
This is one particular area that we've really refined our plan, and we're actually getting really into
Something we learned is that we need to identify what every county employee is responsible for
during a disaster.
We didn't have it to that detail and we hope to do that very soon.
The Resource Task Group, a very interesting group and one of the hardest working groups during
9-11, a group of purchasing agents and logistics experts from many of the county departments,
and in fact on Sept. 11, we actually borrowed purchasing agents from some of our surrounding
communities that helped us out tremendously.
This was a huge effort to provide the resources needed for the folks that were working on site.
The Shelter Task Group, the senior staff from Parks, Schools, and Red Cross, the schools so
graciously give us their buildings when needed for shelter.
The Red Cross manages the shelter for us, and the Parks Department helps coordinate that effort.
The Employee Support Task Group, which we are so proud of is our Department of Health and
Human Services and our critical incident stress management staff, which actually come from the
They support all of our employees during disaster, and they did a wonderful job during September
Our Communications Task Group, which is departmental public information officers, as well as
library staff, and a few other key staff.
Their tasks are obviously to communicate with the citizens, staff, and businesses before, during
and after a disaster.
We will admit t you that it is one of our weaknesses that we've identified, as Jim has mentioned,
and that's something that we're going to work very quickly on and I think something that we're
going to be very proud of as a model community when we get to the end of the process.
Our Recovery Task Group of key employees, generally with inspection or financial expertise,
these folks coordinate the recovery effort.
I will brag on them a little bit.
FEMA said it was the best job they had ever seen of paperwork and data collection during an
It made our recovery, although not all the money we would like to have seen recovered, but it
made it a very easy process where a lot of communities take a lot longer.
We shortened the process because our folks were so professional.
Transportation, Routing, and Traffic Task Group.
These are traffic experts from several different departments.
The Department of Public Works, etc., as well as our Police Department.
And they develop traffic plans in response to disasters including, if necessary, developing
I will say a little bit about evacuation plans.
There has been a lot of press about evacuation plans in the DC area.
I will leave it at this.
There's not to date been any coordination of the DC evacuation plan with any of the jurisdictions
That's something that's going to be going on down the road, but we're not there yet.
There's a lot of coordination that has to be done in terms of evacuation.
I will try to bring you all up to speed on some of our current planning efforts.
We always are in the process of planning with our comprehensive emergency management plan.
That's always a document that's fluid and working.
But on top of that, we have a COG regional plan that's being put together.
I have to brag a little bit on Jay Facett.
Thank you so much for being on that task force and serving on that.
We are also involved in the National Capital Region National Pharmaceutical stockpile planning
that's going on.
The Virginia State public health planning, we have our senior HSS staff involved at the state level.
Arlington recently received a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to
develop a metropolitan medical response system, so we have that planning effort.
The Police Department as well as the Fire Department have their continual response plans going
and we've made some major changes, and I think upgrades to that, in terms of personal protective
clothing and how the officers will be protected and able to do that.
We also are undertaking at this time a county biological plan.
We are well on the way in that planning effort.
And we also are in the process of developing a plan for radiation.
Again, we have revised the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, actually several times
since Sept. 11.
We now have the addition of an alert matrix.
We are trying to make our matrix fit in with the Homeland Security matrix, but we're not quite
We also have incorporated some of the planning from Y2K so that we have a better continuity of
We also are in consideration of folding in the federal emergency management support functions.
Also, we've updated our task groups and departmental plans and are coordinating with all these
We're also, as part of our planning effort, very shortly I hope, actually within days, should see the
official Pentagon after action report, which will be shared widely with the entire community.
Some of our future planning I think one of the biggest ones that we are all interested in is a
more comprehensive communications plan, including alert systems for our community and a
development of community response assistance.
I think that it is important for our community that is extremely interested in helping us with
disasters to have the right vehicles and the right forums in which to help us.
And part of the planning which Jackie and that committee will be doing is the beginning of this
council that will help us develop these community response assistance programs.
The Department Preparedness Council that you've heard a lot about already is designed to
enhance communications with the citizens, assure public awareness of the emergency
This forum is the beginning of that.
We will be glad to come out to any of your meetings of any of your groups, be it large or small, to
talk about this issue.
We want to provide the public with a greater understanding of how to prepare for and how to
respond to different emergencies, both neighborhood-based and personal.
And we want to coordinate with the Neighborhood Watch and other existing programs, especially
the police have a few others, volunteers in police service and those programs that we think are
very valuable in the War on Terrorism and preparedness.
And I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce you to a new product that Arlington
County is working with a county vendor to develop, which is REACT.
REACT is a new technology-based public notification system that uses existing pagers, cell
phones, personal digital assistance and email for emergency notices.
And we've actually applied for a grant, which looks fairly good at this point, so that we can get
this for our citizens so that you could subscribe to, in essence, a system that will alert you and we
can give you alert notifications as well as other notifications.
It won't be simply for alerts, and we hope to have that up and running fairly soon.
That's really my presentation.
I just want to share with you one other thing.
When Jim said people didn't know exactly what to do, let me tell you that I took this job on Sept.
10, and I was a fire and EMS captain and Chief Plaugher asked me to come into the office and
serve in this position.
I think at the time we talked temporary.
We'll have to revisit that.
But we certainly all have a learning curve and I'm looking forward to learning and working with
you in the future.
Jim Pebley: Very good.
In my continuing effort to make sure we introduce all the right introductions, I would also like to
recognize Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike Raffo.
He is a representative of the Sheriff here tonight and we very much appreciate you coming to join
So thank you for that.
Our next speaker is Meg Tucillo.
Ms Tussillo is the Director of Administrative Services for Arlington Public Schools.
She will be speaking about the schools' plans for emergencies that occur while school is in
Meg Tucillo: Thank you. Good evening everybody.
I do want to share with you that we have in our school system a booklet, "Arlington Public
School Emergency Management Reference Book," and the booklet had been updated just about
six months before Sept. 11, and so it was timely.
Actually, we did have in our different scenarios of possibilities a plane crash because in 1988,
when I was principal of Tuckahoe, a two-person plane crashed into the hill across the street from
us at O'Connell.
It was a rather minor issue.
And during this terrible crisis, one of the principals said to me the next day, "The page about
plane crash didn't do me any good."
And that is a very telling statement, actually.
For all that preparation, for all of our planning, for all of our detailing, each situation, each event,
each crisis that we have dealt with and will deal with will be unique.
And a lesson that we've learned, and I think we all have learned, is that we all do just the best that
we can in the given situation.
We will never have the complete handbook, a lesson learned for us all.
That said, we do certainly attempt to be as prepared as possible and to be as responsive and
proactive as possible in working to make sure that the children under our care are not learning
every day but are in a safe environment.
The Sept. 11 tragedy was something that all of us remember in our own minds, how it happened,
where we were, and what we did during that day.
And the senior staff and the administrators attempted to log what happened that day and how we
responded so that we could reflect on that later on.
The senior staff and the superintendent happened to be all in the same place having a senior staff
meeting and so we were already gathered together.
We worked very quickly in notifying all the school principals once we were aware of the situation
and instructed staff to lock down buildings, to keep the students inside the main buildings, to
restrict the access, and have staff actively monitor through the building.
Systems were developed for sign out.
We had many parents from the very beginning quickly coming to school, wanting to get their child
out of school.
And we needed a way to make sure that we could do that.
It is amazing how quickly and how astute the administrators were at developing a system to have
someone be a runner and identify who the parent was and get some identification and get that
I'll talk a little bit later about having kind of experienced that, some of the advice that we now
give to our parents in the possibility that there might be another crisis where we would need to act
and keep our schools closed, and keep our schools opened rather and have our children stay in
school as long as possible.
We had students who were in trailers moved into the main building.
We really thought about ways that we could keep them safe and keep them secure while we were
all learning about what was happening.
We directed the staff to turn off televisions.
My daughter teaches in Atlanta, and she told me later that their entire school watched TV all day
long with everyone in the same state of shock.
We make a decision to turn off the television, to give the students the information in as simple and
realistic a way as we could, undramatic, very honestly but briefly tell them what we knew.
Schools remained open until the end of the regular schedule, and we arranged for staff to
supervise students later as necessary.
And as you can appreciate, many of those teachers are also parents and have loved ones, and were
concerned that day.
We coordinated transportation and worked around some very challenging issues, and again the
police and fire departments worked very closely with us.
And I will say again, we're pretty proud of the many members of our facilities staff who worked
very closely with the fire department in the rescue attempts and I think felt they were helpful in
having some positive results there, too.
Counseling is one of our major concerns for our students and in crisis and in the situation where
they're concerned and they're upset, counselors quickly got into action.
They were alerted and dispatched where necessary to help maintain calm and help to start staff
We made a decision to keep school open that day.
Many of you may have heard other schools closed early and they tried to get children out of the
area, and it proved to be very difficult.
At a recent meeting of CLOG (laughter) COG (That's what it was.), other area staff who were
responsible for school security said that they regretted that they closed school so early because it
became so difficult.
So, for many reasons we made that decision and stuck with it and it proved to be helpful.
We also made a decision to close school the next day.
We really struggled with that but it was so important for us to be able to convene our staff, our
administrators, our counselors together to develop a plan for the next day for our students and
children and staff coming back.
It also was clear to us that from families that they wanted to be together.
And so having that day for families at home to be together to do what they needed to do and then
to come back and have a plan of action.
Our counselors and principals and administrators were very fortunate that we were able to get a
world class expert on dealing with grief and crisis to come and talk with us on that Wednesday.
And we developed plans, and our Superintendent for Student Services helped develop kind of a
guideline of what to say to the students the next day, to open it up for children to react and to
have some time talk, but to also talk about, "We need to move on.
We need to trust each other to be able to work together and move ahead."
And that ability to have some paper, to have some guidelines for the teachers to use proved to be
On that Thursday, we discovered that we had 140 counselors and psychologists and other staff
members who wee particularly trained in dealing with grief and crisis available in our schools and
they were sent out and worked very effectively to help us get back into a positive, forward-
looking role through the difficulty.
We looked again at our crisis management plans, and refine them, and we continue to refine them.
As I said, we will never have the perfect piece of paper for every crisis.
But this incident helped us to look back and reminded us to identify in each of our schools our
own emergency plans for each particular school, to identify the roles of the school-based
emergency management team, who is the leader, what leadership should we look to, what backup,
who will be doing communications, who will be located at each identified spot throughout the
building and what each staff member who is part of the crisis team for that school, what role that
person will have.
It has made us, certainly more aware, and has reminded us to review this at least monthly at each
of our buildings.
We conduct a variety of drills: tornado drills; evacuation drills; a variety of drills throughout the
year to remind ourselves and to help students remember that there are things that we can do.
And sometimes it helps children to have practiced and have a sense of this is where I go, this is
what I do in a crisis, so that they have some sense of security and that they have practiced some
We've identified a command post and identified materials that we need in each of our schools, and
we are working to make these all available.
Pretty much we have them: flashlights, radios, batteries, walkie-talkies, first aid kits, the
emergency cards that our children have that we depend on parents to fill out.
And this is, again, heightened our awareness of making sure each one is up to date and complete.
Floor plans for all schools is something that we have always kept on file.
We are sharing that with the police and fire department and having them centrally located, both at
the Ed Center and a variety of locations, in case we need that.
Yearbooks in our high schools, the small class pictures, who are students in our younger grades,
we like to have those pictures with us.
Identifiable tags for all staff people.
Just a variety of things that we have reminded ourselves that we need to be alert to and on stay on
Outside, I have put a two-page general information packet for you to pick up when you are
I actually think it is on the police table because the police table had the most room, but it is school
information and it talks about frequently asked questions related to crises and national events and
it talks somewhat about anthrax and other issues but it goes on to talk about issues in our school.
And the question should I pick up my child if there is a tragedy or an emergency, and we have
come to the conclusion that it is probably best not to rush quickly to school to get your child.
The best place might very well be for that child to stay with their class, to stay with their
classmates and teachers in an environment that they know and they are comfortable in.
And if we say that we said to parents that we're going to keep you here until the end of the day,
children are less anxious about is my Mom coming?
Is my Dad coming?
And we found that on Sept. 11, as parents were coming to pick up their children, other children
became very anxious, where's my Mom?
Where's my Dad?
So actually if we were able as a community to feel confident that our children stay where they are,
at least initially until we are able to gather more information and develop plans, that's a safer,
calmer environment for all of the children.
And if schools are closed, there are a variety of ways for you to know that.
School has a website and that is on your information as well, as well as a telephone hotline
number that is in here.
I won't read it here so that you'll worry about getting it down, but please pick up the paper.
If they close early or if we have to delay the opening of school for an emergency, that information
is available on our website, on the hotline, on our radio stations, on Channel 30 on our school
So we're trying to be as responsive as possible in providing information.
And when we had the crisis of this magnitude, we have been and will continue to develop
information to share with families so that they have some support in working with so we're trying
to be as responsive as possible in providing information and when we have a crisis of this
magnitude, we are, have been, and will continue to develop information to share with families so
that they have some support in working with their children if they are experiencing anxiety or
tension or grief.
As a result of Sept. 11, we were able to secure some money from the state and hire an additional
counselor to help students in some of our identified schools who were particularly hard hit.
For example, as many of you know, Hal from Ballston, the principal's husband, died tragically in
the incident at the Pentagon and that school is the closest school to the Pentagon.
That marvelous principal went through the day and kept her pain private until she was sure that
her children and her staff were safe.
That school has been particularly hard hit, so we were able to get additional counseling help for
them, as well as being able to get additional material.
We have used these resources, this money, to develop some crisis resource packets for schools
and parents that are being developed, and we'll have them available for families at the beginning
of the year.
And we are developing a one-page kind of crisis one-pagers for parents to have some detailed
information in case we have a situation such as we had Sept. 11, so that you can have it on your
refrigerator or somewhere where you can quickly refer for the hotline information and other
details you might want to know in a crisis.
So, we are working diligently to respond to crises, but we are also working diligently to be
prepared and be proactive and be sensitive to the needs of our children first and foremost and our
families in helping our children through a difficult childhood these days.
Jim Pebley: Thank you Ms Tucillo.
Our fourth speaker this evening is Mr. Colin Chapperal, who is Emergency Services Coordinator
for the Arlington Red Cross. Mr. Chapperal will speak about the Red Cross's role, the chapter's memorandum of
understanding with the Arlington County government and Red Cross training and volunteer opportunities.
And I would also add as we are getting set up, we still have some seats down in front and for our police officer friends, I talked to the Chief and he says it's okay to sit down, so come on down.
If you'd like, we've got some more chairs down this way.
Mr. Colin Chapperal:Good evening.
First of all, I would like to thank Jackie Snellings and the Civic Federation for allowing the
Arlington County chapter to be a part of this forum this evening.
We certainly recognize the importance of being affiliated with these mutual agencies in our efforts
to better serve the community.
We saw after 9-11 just the importance of all the collaborations of the various agencies that got
together, came together to help out.
At that time I was new to the area.
I was merely a volunteer, and although I shouldn't say "merely" because actually the Red Cross is
all based on volunteers, and I would like to thank all the volunteers that are in the audience this
evening that have given us, given me the support in providing the materials that you find in some
of your folders, as well as the table that's outside.
And I would strongly urge you and any of the groups that you are affiliated with to give us a call,
let us know what kind of information you are looking for.
This is basically trying to prevent reinventing the wheel.
We realize that there is a wealth of information out there and basically use these collaborations as
a platform for a resource sharing.
We currently have a memorandum of understanding with the county Emergency Management.
And our role and our expectations in, basically in disaster response and how that ties into not
being first responders.
As you know, we assist the county fire departments in the day to day canteen of fires, and over
and above that we have a wealth of other resources and opportunities for citizens, for families and
individual business groups, for them to get involved in the community.
We offer a wide array of training opportunities, not only to the youth, but also to adults.
One of the aspects of our memorandum of understanding is the need for volunteers who come out
to assist in various disasters.
Like in 9-11, we had a wide spectrum of volunteers from broad backgrounds who wanted to
come out and assist and give a helping hand.
Unfortunately, not all of them were of Red Cross backgrounds.
Not to undermine their capabilities, but they didn't have the necessary training that would allow
them to go out and assist at the Pentagon and so forth.
So, we would like to encourage anybody who would like to become a member of our chapter to
attend an orientation and learn how to become a volunteer.
Take the basic training.
We realize that not everybody is interested in disaster relief, but we have a wide, we have a
number of various committees that are basically running our chapter.
Our structure is relatively flat in that each of our committees basically pools together resources
and all of our knowledge and experience to make the chapter function.
So basically, I would just like to urge you that we have a wide array of opportunities for training
and direct emergency relief assistance.
This is a stepping stone for our chapter.
We realized after 9-11 that we have to be more proactive, not only as a chapter but as a
And we realized that it is a challenge not only because Arlington is such a diverse community and
we have people of various backgrounds, languages, cultures, religions, and so forth, and that a lot
of our materials are in English, which is very important.
But we also need to go out and target the communities and let them become aware that we offer,
you know, various opportunities.
We have a wide array of resources that can help them put together their disaster plans and teach
kids about CPR and first aid.
And that's a good little segue into our training opportunities that we have at the chapter.
We have, we offer not only individual CPR classes, but we also offer CPR classes to business and
community organizations where, you know, you organize a pool number of people to come and
attend some of our CPR classes held at the chapter.
So we would encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities.
Some of the lessons learned following 9-11, especially from my perspective, coming from also a
foreign background, is the importance of targeting the minority and cultural communities.
I realize from my day to day work with refugees and immigrants in our community that they
don't their literacy rates are very low.
And I think that the Red Cross, with many volunteers who speak a number of different languages,
and we have some of these brochures and materials in Spanish and, you know, in a few other
languages, that we definitely can provide some great support to different agencies, apartment
complexes, or different business organizations that might be able to benefit from such resources.
So, again, I would like to thank the Civic Federation for allowing us the opportunity to be a part
of this forum tonight.
We have a table, a booth in the back, and we have some dedicated volunteers who would be
willing to answer any questions you may have.
And if you are looking for any further information, we would be happy to come and give a
We have a CDE (Community Disaster Education) committee that are volunteers who go out and
give presentations and talks to community members.
So if anybody is interested, feel free to stop by our booth this evening and we'll note down your
Jim Pebley: Thank you Mr. Chapperal.
Our final speaker this evening is our own inimitable Jackie Snelling, Civic Federation Delegate Extraordinaire. Jackie is the chair of the Disaster Preparedness Subcommittee of the Public Services Committee of the Federation. She'll be speaking tonight on the role of citizens, civic associations, and civic leaders.
Now while Jackie comes up here and gets her presentation ready, I would like to relate to you, and I am segueing this, that I received a call this afternoon from Lt. Governor John Hager, I
should say former Lt. Governor John Hager, who is now the Special Assistant to Governor Warner for Commonwealth Preparedness.
He was invited to this meeting, and he called to apologize because the letter was delayed for anthrax screening.
(Laughter) So, it always seems appropriate. However, he wanted to say that he appreciated the leading role that the Federation and our county and our community is taking on disaster preparedness for communities. He's interested in seeing Arlington become potentially a partner with the Commonwealth for
becoming a model community and he has invited Jackie and her group as well as some of the Federation members to come to Richmond and talk to them about what we are doing in
Arlington. So, I'll give you Jackie.
Jackie Snelling: Thank you, Jim.
This evening we have heard from the police, from our emergency management, from the schools,
and from the Red Cross about the resources that are available to our community and what we can
expect from a strong Arlington response in the event of emergencies.
Now, I want to talk to you about what YOU can do, because we all need to be part of this effort.
The answer, we've been reading in the press, we've been hearing comments daily about how, in
this heightened sense of alert, people feel helpless and feel frustration and ask, "What can I do?"
which is what Jim had said earlier, "What can we do?".
And the answer for all of you, our civic leaders, is that you can lead by example.
And the example that you can give our community is to be informed and to be prepared, and
that's what I am going to talk to you about tonight.
Who is responsible in an emergency?
You are responsible for yourself.
You are responsible for your family.
And you are responsible to help your neighbors and everyone else that you can help.
You CAN make a difference, if you are informed, alert, and prepared.
As I believe Capt. Penn mentioned, usually the first people at the site of an emergency are
citizens, civilians, and how they act and whether they know how to act appropriately can save
lives until the first responders arrive.
We will talk about taking responsibility in two areas: What should each of us know individually
and be prepared to do?
And, secondly, What can neighbors do to help each other?
We need to prepare for the unexpected, at home, at work, in your car everywhere you go.
And there are simple, basic steps that you can learn that apply to all disasters.
The "all disaster approach" that Capt. Penn was talking about.
What this is based on is that the responses to most disaster are common, and if you learn those
and then you listen to what the authorities say in a particular disaster, you will be able to respond
What do we need to do?
We need to create, each of us, a family disaster plan.
We need to prepare disaster supplies kits, and we need to know basic first aid, as many of us as
Creating family disaster plan: These are the basic elements of a disaster plan.
You all have brochures prepared by FEMA and the Red Cross in your packets.
You need to study them, make them your own.
Communication, establishing a meeting place, assembling the disaster kits you will want to do
this for your home; you will want to do this for work; you will want to do this for anywhere that
you might be.
Establishing a communication plan: you need to choose a contact person for your family.
You don't know where your family will be in a disaster.
They could be anywhere.
You could be anywhere.
How will you find each other?
It's worth it to take the time now to know the answer to that question.
That's what disaster planning is about.
You choose a contact person, one who is local and one who is out of state.
Because we know that in some local emergencies, local phone systems are jammed.
So if you have an out of state contact and you are separated from your family, you can all call that
contact and you will be able to determine that you're all safe and be able to reassemble.
Give your children cards with these phone numbers on them.
You need to establish a meeting place, outside your home if it's a fire, so you can check to make
sure that everybody's safe.
Our children learn this in school as they learn their fire safety plans, and we need to remember this
and practice this.
You need a place away from home, outside of your neighborhood in case there's evacuation.
You need to talk to your family about where that place would be.
At work, we all need to also make sure that there is a disaster plan that's in effect at work.
Each of you should go home tonight and when you go to work tomorrow morning you should ask
your employers: Do they have an evacuation plan?
Do they have plans for sheltering in case you have to remain there?
What's the location of emergency equipment?
Who is trained for first aid?
We've heard from Meg about disaster plans at school.
We also need to, each of us know, what the particular plans are for our school.
Each school has a different disaster plan.
I urge all of you to ask your PTAs, in the Fall, to have a meeting where you learn about your
school's disaster plans and where you teach the parents how to create family disaster plans.
You need to assemble a disaster supplies kit.
This is what you're going to need to survive if you have shelter in place. You have to have the basics: water, food, special needs medicines. And don't forget your radio. The radio is your main methods of communication and you need to have a radio and the batteries that run it and flashlights.
Now, I'm just giving you an overview. If you depend on this Power Point slide, you will not be prepared. You need to look in your packets. Take the disaster supplies kit. It's in about four different forms there: checklists, grocery lists, all different ways. Find one that works for you and come up with your disaster supplies kit.
Why is it important to tune in to your local news station during a disaster? Because you need to be able to follow the directions. As I said before, you learn the basics, but you have to listen to the authorities and to the experts in
order to know which response you need to take.
In a disaster there are two basic responses: (1) shelter in place; stay where you are; (2) and the
other is to evacuate.
When you shelter in place, you get your supplies kit and you move to an interior room that has no
You do need to listen, though, because the room that you go to will depend on what type of
disaster it is.
If, for example, it were a chemical attack, you would probably want to be upstairs.
If it were a tornado, you would probably want to be in the basement.
So you have to have your radio and listen.
You need to prepare to be in place for three to seven days.
This is a range that is provided by different agencies.
Some say three.
Three is definitely the minimum, to seven.
That means that when you are doing your disaster supplies kit, you need supplies that will last you
three to seven days.
That's a gallon of water per person, per day, as an example.
Evacuation: You need to get your disaster kit and you need to follow your evacuation plan.
You may need to evacuate your house, your apartment, your office.
That would be, an example would be if there were a fire.
That's where you evacuate your house.
That's something everybody needs to have a plan for.
Go home; ask your apartment buildings.
If you live in a high rise building, the question is should we be feeling helpless? No, we should be
acting. Find out what the evacuation plan is.
Make sure that you have drills in your apartment buildings and in your offices.
Your neighborhood: Yes, there are times when we know we will have to evacuate neighborhoods.
An example of a more common example would be a gas leak.
Sometimes a power outage that's extended for several days might have you leave your
We're told by Capt. Penn that it's unlikely that we would be asked to evacuate Arlington.
However, we do need to be aware of the fact that DC has a disaster evacuation plan and since
there hasn't been that much communication on that, you need to be familiar with it.
You might be downtown.
Their website--their transportation website for DC has their evacuation routes on it.
If you're north of Pennsylvania Avenue, you will be directed north, west, and east.
If you're south of Pennsylvania Avenue, you will be directed south, east, and west.
You will not be allowed to cross Pennsylvania Avenue.
So you need to know that plan, that evacuation plan for DC in case you're there.
You need to know basic first aid, how to stop bleeding, how to deal with burns, shock, CPR.
The more of us who have this training, the safer all of us will be. Fortunately, we have the Red Cross where we can sign up and take all of these classes.
They are available. We have experts here in our community who can provide you with this training.
And by the way, as an aside, Colin was mentioning the Community Disaster Education Committee. One of the first things that our committee did in learning how to respond to disasters is we went
and we took the Red Cross volunteer orientation and we all joined the CDE committee.
So we are all also members of the Red Cross CDE committee, which, by the way, has bilingual
They have people trained to give their presentation, this presentation I am giving now could be
given in Spanish if you have someone who wants that.
Taking responsibility for your neighborhood: That's very important. It's something we can all do to help protect each other.
We need to create neighborhood disaster plans.
We are urging all civic associations to form a committee that will look at what the issues are in
your neighborhood and how you would want to respond.
We hope that every civic association will hold meetings to educate their citizens on more detailed
education on the disaster plans and kits that I have talked to you about.
Invite the Red Cross to come and do a presentation.
Invite your community policing district personnel to come and introduce you to Neighborhood
Start a Neighborhood Watch in your community, by block or by area.
We want people to help identify the strengths and the weaknesses of their neighborhood so that
we can provide a safety net for our neighbors, both on communication and on any assistance that
they might have.
For example, if neighbors right now have mobility problems and need assistance assembling their
disaster supply kits, we should organize groups of people.
Get the teenagers involved in getting those big jugs of water that are hard to lift and carry home if
you are trying to get one gallon per person per day.
We have able-bodied teenagers who can help and that will be very productive for strengthening
our community ties, as well.
Community: The more each of us prepares, the stronger our community will be.
The strength of our community is in each of us prepared and all of us being prepared.
That's the conclusion.
I hope that we will work together to build a strong community and to prepare every citizen in
I told FEMA, when Ann has been going down there weekly, collecting their materials and they said how many copies would we need. And I said well we'll start with 10,000.
How about that? Thank you very much.
Jim Pebley: Thank you Jackie.
I hope that that started to tie together all the presentations that we've talked to tonight.
We're going to have some breakout sessions, but before we do that, I think we have about 20
minutes allotted are we still good for 20 minutes, Madam Preparedness?
>> 20 minutes.
And I'll ask our Vice President, Mr. Kassenbrough, to set the magic timekeeper since our
parliamentarian isn't here.
And what we'd like to do is invite the audience to participate by giving our panel some questions.
Now, we don't have our usual walk-around mic because we're trying to do this for later
rebroadcast on Channel 31, so we'll flip the center mic here.
If you'd like to ask a question, go ahead and line up behind the mic and we'll try to work our way
I'd ask that you keep your question to no more than 30 seconds in length, if you would.
Try not to ask multi-part questions because that gives more people a chance to ask a question and
we can't do follow-ups from one we've heard and what the next person If you don't get an
answer to your question, put it on your evaluation sheet and we promise we'll get back to you on
So at least start by saying who you are and what organization you're representing.
Question: My name is Mike Kilgore and I am a resident of South Arlington. I'm here with the National Institute for Uniform Licensing of Power Engineers, and these are the
people that operate buildings, large facilities, in and around the county. All of the plant operators at the Pentagon are licensed under NIULPE and we've done training
over there. Question is: Would the county be interested in establishing a group of facilities management,
building engineers, chief engineers, and operating engineers in the county? If so, I would like to volunteer to help you with that program.
Jim Pebley: Okay. I think our panel will determine who wants to respond, but I have a hunch that Capt. Penn, who's
kind of jumping up and down in his chair, is ready to talk to that one.
Capt. Penn: I think by all means we'd be glad to entertain getting together with you a group of
those folks who are really important in our business response for our business community and I
think that would add great value to the community.
Question: My name is Kent Williams.
I work with, or I represent the Hyde Park Condominium Association in North Arlington.
And one of my questions is: Have you considered the use of Public Service Announcements over
a broadcast radio and broadcast television to inform us of various plans so that we can all sort of
know what to do before it happens rather than relying strictly on cable and such, particularly the
idea of having pre-recorded announcements in various languages to, you know, to broadcast in
the event of a crisis.
Thank you for your question. We have considered all those means and ways of communicating and all of them posed different
challenges. The public radio and other broadcast media is generally very acceptable to this stuff. However, we are kind of behind the curve on doing the pre-teaching part. If we all think about it, on Sept. 10 I couldn't sell emergency management plans to anybody in this audience. Sept. 11, you all would pay anything for it. And I, that's the reality and the assumptions we have made prior. We are, I think, on top of doing exactly what you asked. We have had some recent meetings with public information officers, who are going to be developing, as well as borrowing from other communities, pre-packaged public service
announcements and giving them out in every venue we can.
Question: This is for Capt. Penn.
My name is Jim Harris.
I live in Fairlington.
I live on South Abingdon Street in Fairlington.
It is a very busy street.
Let me tell you what's happened since Sept. 11.
We have more helicopters than ever flying over Fairlington, and we used to have a lot before
The jet fighters have just stopped after six months, flying constantly overhead.
We have more cut-through traffic than ever.
After Sept. 11, it seemed like every parent that had a child in Abingdon School was bringing the
child to school and picking them up in the afternoon.
We have more strangers walking and using our community as a recreation area than ever.
We have more trailers.
We have more commercial vehicles.
We have more vehicles of any kind parking on our streets, often by strangers.
My question to Capt. Penn is, what, if anything, has Project Resilience or anyone here done for
my community since Sept. 11?
Capt. Penn: I think the sum of what we've done is we have revisited all of our plans and we are
now forming a group to look at citizen community involvement as well as communications, which
I think is the key.
One of our lessons learned from Sept. 11 is that we need to have stronger communications ties
with the community.
We have developed some recent list serves that we could broadcast information to and those
kinds of things.
But I think in the future, one of the keys to some of your comments is Neighborhood Watch and
the things that they will bring to us, tools in a new reform of Neighborhood Watch that will talk
about terrorism and talk about terrorism awareness in those movings that are new to all us.
Question: I am Tim Smith with Belleview Forest.
The new planning group that is being assembled that I presume will bring together business, non-
profits, citizens what relationship will that have with the Citizen Corps Council that is being
recommended on a national level and what will it do specifically for the target
populations seniors, the disabled, and pets being top on my list?
Capt. Penn: Great question.
The planning committee that is being formed is going to do exactly what you just asked answer
all of those questions because we don't have any answers up front.
One of the key conditions that Mr. Corley has asked them to take on is looking at the we don't
call it Citizens Corps Council.
I don't have the letter in front of me, but we actually call it something different, because we want
Arlington to be unique, which it is.
But this council will follow the FEMA model, and that is one of its challenges in this letter is to
do just that.
And I think you bring up a second piece to that, which is very important.
It didn't come out, I think, in the presentations as strongly.
One of the keys to strong community and neighborhoods or one of the reasons we need it so very
badly are the issues you raised, which are the elderly and the special needs population that we
need to identify and we need to have plans to communicate with them as well as to take care of
them and serve them.
And that is one of the great challenges that this committee will have to work on as it evolves.
Jackie Snelling: If I could just answer the other part of that question.
It is the Public Preparedness Council, is what Mr. Corley is calling it.
Question: I am Mary Catrah with Rock Spring Civic Association, and my concern as representative from
our civic association is that in implementing these things and setting them up and getting them
ready to go, I am not sure how you are going to do this.
And maybe you could address that, but make sure that you're tell me how you're going to make
sure that those of us that live in our little houses on the streets and the civic associations, that the
trickle-down effect of all these programs I mean, how you're going to make sure that we all get
to profit from them no matte whether we're activists or whether we're the reactionary folks that
only get panicked when something happens.
Jackie Snelling: I think that's one of the reasons why we're talking about a Neighborhood
Watch, is the Neighborhood Watch is a block-by-block organization where, if you live on my
block, Mary, I will come and talk to you and I will talk to you about preparedness.
We talked about the organizational parts of it, but it can also be done through social events.
So that, for example, in my community one of my neighbors over here is going to be having
families from her block come and meet at her house.
We're going to bring all the families together and we're going to work on our family disaster
plans together, as a group, so that we can discuss them.
So, what we need to do is we need to have a real community-based response, and that is a
neighborhood building effort.
And that is why I said it really is, our strength really needs to be in building community, and that's
how we reach everyone.
Question: Good afternoon.
My name is Walter DeHalve.
I am a member the League of United Latin American Citizens, a Latino organization based in
I have a two-part question.
One is to the Red Cross and the other one in general.
First, how long does the volunteer training at the Red Cross usually take and, I guess, a location
where someone goes and gets the training.
And then the group training I guess a group comes out to other, to groups and trains them.
How long do these two things last, in general? And then the other part of my question is are there
any plans being considered for partnering with Spanish language radio stations throughout the
Washington Metropolitan Area because we have one Spanish language radio station based in
And then the majority of the other radio stations are based in Maryland, Silver Spring, but they do
And so I am just wondering if anything is being discussed on that as well as a television station
that broadcasts in Spanish right out of Arlington.
They offer Telemundo and others.
If you could just comment on that.
Red Cross Rep: As far as our training goes, we have a semester-based training schedule where
basically we encourage everybody interested in taking our disaster training after the first
It's a 12-week program where, you know, you start out with a series of disaster-related courses
and then you, once a month, are committed to sticking with the semester.
We do encourage that they are free to take courses at their convenience and after they meet a
certain amount of courses, they are qualified, so to speak, to be disaster-prepared, disaster-ready,
to go out and assist on a relief operation.
As far as TV with Spanish media, that is definitely something we are looking into, not only on the
disaster side, but especially for our other services and international social services.
But that's definitely something we would like to try and work on is letting these Telemundo and
other media outlets aware of disaster related activities in the area.
And that's something, you know, hopefully can work out as a collaboration with the emergency
You raised an excellent point.
The emergency alert system that all of the communities around us use is a system that was
developed by a committee at FEMA and brought forth into all the communities in the nation.
The emergency alert system brings together broadcast media and it's coordinated in our area by
WTOP and it covers al stations.
And I'm not sure they have those stations that you're speaking of in their grouping so that we can
automatically put information out.
So that may be you've brought up an excellent point, and I'll get with you after break here and
we'll get contact information for those folks, and I'll begin that conversation with the emergency
alert system group and see if we can add them to that grouping because that's a wonderful idea.
Meg Tucillo: I did want to add, from the school's point view, too, that because growing
representation in our schools is comprised of Spanish-speaking families that reaching out and
making sure that we're communicating any emergency communication to the media does include
Telemundo and other Spanish-speaking communication so that that's something that we do and
will continue to work to improve, as well as sending information home for parents in languages
that are appropriate for them help to prepare every family to work with their child and to be
Jackie Snelling: I would like to add clarification on the training also.
Carlo was talking about the extensive training that's required to be a disaster responder and part
of the disaster response team to be on the sight of a disaster.
Disaster planning for families can be done in about an hour's session and there are both on the
Red Cross Community Disaster Education Committee and on our Civic Federation Committee we
have speakers that can do these presentations in Spanish, and we are as you know, we've said
we'd really like to find enough sufficient interest to do a forum like this in Spanish that we can
have broadcast in all of the Spanish media, particularly in connection with Latino events to get a
broad range of families involved.
Question: My name is Andrea Diaz and I'm with Fairlington Villages, and I just had a couple of
comments rather than questions.
One, I found that this time was one of the few times that the local stations were not very helpful.
They kept going over the disaster at the Pentagon but they weren't telling you that more
emergency vehicles were going to be responding or you need to avoid these particular roadways
or any of that.
They just kept harping on the actual situation.
And I realize that it was highly unusual, but being a native of this area, I've been through many of,
you know, snow storms and everything else, so I was particularly troubled by that one.
The second thing with communication, you mentioned in the Power Point of having a
communication contact person.
But I'd like to suggest that if you use it, make the conversation short, because a lot of people who
could finally through on cell phones and stuff, because a lot of phones were knocked out,
including my government agency phones, were "Well, yeah, there's a lot of smoke coming out;
the traffic's backed up, etc., etc."
In my particular case, my contact person was my brother in New York, whose son was in college
nine blocks from the World Trade Center, so he was particularly upset with two people involved
with it because of my particular job.
My thing with the conversation was, I called him up.
I said, "Hi.
We'll talk to you later.
Bye." It was very simple, to the point.
He knew that I was okay.
And I think that that should be emphasized.
Jim Pebley: We've got about four minutes, so I think the people with questions in line will be the only
ones we can take remaining.
Question: I'm Dick Anderson from Red Cross Woodlawn Association.
I think it was Mr. Penn who indicated that Arlington is the first community, and I think we can
really evidence this from about six to nine o'clock in the morning and about three to seven in the
afternoon, when we are a flow-through community.
My concern and question, and I don't know who to aim this at, is: We have a lot of people trying
to come through our community and it really ties up the transportation of those trying to get out
of our community.
We have them for awhile, and then there are those of us who work in the Pentagon or DC who
are trying to get home ourselves, and we really don't have a good plan for I'll say evacuation to
And I would like to know who's working on this.
Are there plans for making 395 one-way or something in case of an emergency?
Capt. Penn: We actually have, we don't have working plans that say in this particular scenario
we can change the traffic patterns.
We do have the ability with a phone call to change those patterns as we need, but we don't have it
I think, as Meg mentioned, it's difficult to have every scenario written out ahead of time so that
you have an exact response to the scenario.
We have exercised and have planned that, as an example, that we make Route 66 all westbound
all lanes, that we do something with 95, make it all southbound, and those kinds of things.
We have the support of the Virginia Department of Transportation as well as the state police,
Arlington Police, and public works to do those particular kinds of things.
In fact, recently the Police Department held an exercise on traffic management as part of a larger
exercise that the county had that exercised our ability to do some of those things, to make the
So, we do have that planned, in a way, but we don't have it specifically written down.
But they key component of what we're hearing is the evacuation of the District and it speaks to
your traffic flow-through issue, and they have not done any coordination with us.
In fact, we're not really happy with that, but I think that is going to occur.
They responded to an immediate political need, and I think we're going to see some of that.
Communities throughout Virginia that have had larger opportunity to learn Virginia Beach
being an example for the many hurricane evacuations have agreed to assist us.
We've already had some discussion with their group on how to talk about long-range
evacuations, because you just don't evacuate.
You have to have a place to go.
And the people where you go have to agree to shelter you.
So you just don't send people along their way without a shelter in sight.
So the folks in the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, as well as others, are going
to assist us with those long-range plans.
But that's going to be a LONG planning effort that will..
We're going to get there, but it is going to be a long thing to do.
Question: I'm Greg Kreblon from Arlington Forest Citizens Association. I'm a retired veterinarian, and I was very concerned when the anthrax scare was on, and this leads
me to my question: Are we, is there any consideration given to enlisting the help of the young
people, children and the students, in this relatively monumental task we have before us?
I see that you have a paper here, Miss Tussillo, on the which mentions the anthrax.
At the time I was very concerned with the fact that most schools are relatively open.
People can just walk in.
And I don't think that has changed very much, which brings me to the point: Is it perhaps
possible to have the children contribute to this watchfulness and I realize that it puts a lot of
responsibility on them.
But, right now I think it is too easy for someone to walk right in and if they have that dust, dust it
around most of our schools.
Some of them have a little higher security than others and, in general, I think the young people
can be enlisted.
Miss Fleming did mention having teenagers help with disabled people.
Meg Tussillo: Actually, we and Jackie had met earlier in the month and we had talked about
how we would organize.
What we envisioned for her specific civic association and one of the ideas that came out of that
was gathering a group of able-bodied teenagers that have strong backs and are able to work and
getting a corps of them together to do a function.
And, I think, actually, it would probably keep their minds off some of the scary things that come
along with these disasters.
So, we have gone there.
We don't have any specifics at this point, but I think it is a great resource that we could tap into.
Greg: In being sensitive to young people's needs, though, and I'm not sure if you were going
in the way that I was hearing, I think we walk a fine line.
Our schools are where our children spend a good part of the day and many of our schools are
neighborhood are where our children spend a good part of the day, and many of our schools are
neighborhood schools and we are proud of that, proud of the fact that we have many volunteers
and many families who come in to visit.
But we are aware of the need to be vigilant, and when you go into many of our schools, eyes are
watching or you are being asked to check in or you are being invited or directed to the main
Short of stringent measures of metal detectors and what have you, I would caution us not to set
our children up to be so anxious.
If you re suggesting that we enlist our children to be vigilant and to be watching, we certainly are
doing that, but we're also encouraging them to maintain some level of trust while we are looking
around us with wider eyes, but not to such a degree that we have to raise the level of concern for
youngsters that they feel that they can't be comfortable, or that they can't trust individuals.
It's a very fine line that we as families and we as a community walk in.
Jim Pebley: One last question.
Question: I'm Bardy Romano.
I represent the Douglas Park Civic Association.
And I imagine my question is more for Ms Snelling than for anyone else.
It is specifically, given that many of the efforts to revitalize and build community watch
organizations are going to involve aspects that perhaps we haven't though of before.
Who can we, in Douglas Park, turn to to come to either our civic association meetings or our
executive board meetings to get started building Neighborhood Watch organizations that will be
I'm looking for a specific name, now, to call and say, "Please come and talk to us."
Jackie Snelling: We would be happy to come and talk to you.
You could reach the Civic Federation at prepared+.
That's our new email, our new email for questions related to citizen preparedness. It is prepared+.
Jim Pebley: If you didn't write that down, it's on the website and it will be available and you can just find it
there. Click it and it will set you up with an email back to us.
Jackie Snelling: We also have been working to enlist in each police district a civic association that is
willing to pilot and be a model for starting out a rejuvenated Neighborhood Watch.
We have Lyon Village in District 2; we have, I believe Aurora Highlands in District 4; Belleview
Forest in District 1; and I've talked with two or three different associations in District 3 and they
want us to come talk to them before they commit to piloting.
So, we'd be happy to come and talk to you.
BUT, you also have a very important resource that I would invite even, maybe before you or at
the same time and that is your District Commander and your Community Policing Office.
Because Neighborhood Watch is a partnership between community policing and civic
So we really need to be there together to talk with you about how to do it.
And many of the ideas I've got, and I've got from talking to Mary Gavin, our District
Capt. Panther in District 4 was there when we made our presentation to Highlands, and it really
was a dialogue and a partnership.
So, we would be happy to come and talk with you.
Jim Pebley: Okay. Thank you. Couple of things: I've been passed a note to say that those who did not get a packet when they
arrived because we had some of them dedicated.
If you didn't get one, see the nice lady in the turquoise sweater on the way out and she'll have
Also, I would also, you know, I'd like to wrap it up a little bit before we go into our breakouts
and say that four years ago, big snow storm.
I was the new civic association president.
Many of you were civic association presidents or representatives.
And I remember driving around my neighborhood, looking at the houses, and saying, "Okay.
I am president of this civic association.
I don't have a plan.
I don't know where the people are who are disabled, or senior, or not able to get out."
And I was a very, very frustrated individual, and I would urge every one of you to go back to
your civic associations; talk about what you can do to help your families and help your neighbors.
Because, as we've said, the next big disaster may not be as localized.
The disaster response by our emergency teams will be tied up, and a lot of or communities will
have to rely on themselves.
So that's why this was so important this evening.
And I'll stop lecturing.
Here you go, Jackie.
Jackie Snelling: It's not a lecture.
It's very important for all of us.
I'd like to thank the speakers for coming here tonight and for all of the work and preparation they
are all doing every day to help us know what we need to do to be prepared.
We are going to be moving the breakout sessions now by police district with our district
commanders so we can start working on our neighborhood plans.
And that will be the first place when we'll get some ideas about how we roll up our sleeves and
get to work.
But, first, I want to encourage you to go home and participate in developing neighborhood plans
through your civic associations.
This page was last revised on: December 27, 2003.