Category Archives: Training

NOVA’s Office of Emergency Management and Woodbridge Campus Conduct Simulated Emergency Functional Exercise to Test Emergency Response

What would you do if an emergency occurred on your campus? How would you and your department respond? These were questions asked on May 27th when NOVA’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Woodbridge Campus conducted a simulated, interactive functional exercise.Functional Exercise 2 

The functional exercise was designed to test the coordination, integration, and interaction of the NOVA and Woodbridge Campus policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities during the simulated event. Woodbridge Campus staff responded in real-time with on-the-spot decisions and actions made in a simulated stressful environment. All of the participants’ decisions and actions generated real responses and consequences from other staff members.

Woodbridge Campus Provost Dr. Sam Hill complimented the realistic aspects of the exercise and the readiness of his Woodbridge team. Dr. Hill added, “All of the participants came away with an understanding of how critical it is to function as a team during emergencies” and also emphasized the exercise “will make us more appreciative of advance preparation for emergencies.” Dr. Hill commended NOVA and OEM for increasing awareness and appreciation of emergency drills because it drives home the fact that everyone needs to be knowledgeable about their roles during an emergency.

Functional ExerciseNOVA’s OEM will conduct this functional exercise at all NOVA campuses to ensure each campus has the opportunity to learn from this valuable training opportunity. If you have any questions about this exercise or general emergency response topics, please email OEM at

Q and A with Dr. Stewart Edwards – NOVA’s Newest C-CERT Train-the-Trainer

The Office of Emergency Management and Safety would like to congratulate Dr. Stewart Edwards (Assistant Dean of Business Management at the Annandale Campus) for recently earning his Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) Train-the-Trainer Certification from FEMA. This certification enables Dr. Edwards to help train future NOVA C-CERT members and help them become better prepared for various emergencies at home, on campus, or in their neighborhoods.

Dr. EdwardsQ: How long have you been a C-CERT member at NOVA?

A: 3 years

 Q: Why did you enroll in C-CERT?

A: To be honest, I did this for myself. I wanted to learn more about emergency preparedness, and actions I could take to prepare myself, my family at home, and on campus. Being resilient during emergencies is important and I wanted to learn what to do prior to an emergency happening—before it’s too late.

Q: Why did you decide to register for C-CERT Train-the-Trainer?

A: After going through NOVA’s C-CERT training program, participating in C-CERT exercises, and attending CERT conferences, I see great potential for strengthening this program at NOVA. I am very grateful to NOVA’s OEMS for approving my attendance at the 3-day Emergency Management Institute training. I can provide value to the program if I can help train future C-CERT members and teach people why emergency preparedness is so important. I want to help grow NOVA’s C-CERT program because I strongly believe in its mission not only for our personal preparedness, but also on campus and in our neighborhoods.

Q: Why would you recommend faculty and staff members take C-CERT?C-CERT2

A: If nothing else, take C-CERT training for yourself and personal knowledge. The College believes in this program and is willing to let you take this on “company time” free of charge. Given the nature of where we work, each campus is like a small town with all the potential for various emergencies. The more of us trained, the better prepared we are as a team to serve NOVA and our communities in time of need.

Future C-CERT classes are being planned this year, so stay tuned for a future email announcement. If you have questions about the program or how you can get involved, please email

About C-CERT: The Campus Community Emergency Response Team (C-CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their campus and community, and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, C-CERT members can assist others in their campus, family, and/or neighborhood following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help.

Virginia Statewide Tornado Drill March 17th at 9:45 am

The annual Statewide Tornado Drill is scheduled for 9:45am on Tuesday, March 17th.  NOVA’s faculty, satff, and students who are on campuses or in one of the College’s off-campus locations will once again be participating in this mandatory Statewide Drill. 

Tornados can happen anytime, anywhere, with little or no warning. Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives.  Below is some information from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s website on the difference between a tornado watch and warning as well as signs of an impending tornado. 

Watches and Warnings
Learn the terms that are used to identify a tornado. 

  • Tornado Watch:   a tornado is possible in your area.  You should monitor weather-alert radios and local radio and TV stations for information. 
  • Tornado Warning:  a tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately

Know the Signs

  • Strong, persistent rotation in the base of a cloud
  • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no visible funnel
  • Hail or heavy rain followed by dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes, especially in Virginia, are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
  • Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder does
  • If it’s night, look for small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds).  These lights are power lines being snapped by very strong wind, perhaps a tornado.
  • Persistent lowering of the cloud base  

NOVA will take part in the Great SouthEast ShakeOut Regional Earthquake Drill on 10/16

On Thursday, October 16th at 10:16 AM, NOVA will participate in The Great SouthEast ShakeOut Regional Earthquake Drill.

What do I do?

An announcement will be made on the campuses and off-site locations at 10:16 AM using the intercom telephone system to start the drill.  Once the announcement is made, you should DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON!

The Timeline will be as follows:

10:16   An announcement will be made that the drill is starting. “This is the start of the Regional Earthquake drill, please drop, cover, and hold on!”  At this time, you should drop to the ground, take cover under a table or sturdy desk, and hold on to it until the shaking stops.

10:21   An announcement will be made that the earthquake is over.  “The earthquake is over, please evacuate your buildings.”  At this time, evacuate the building and report to your assembly point.  *Persons with disabilities should seek assistance in evacuations.

10:35   No announcement will be made, but the drill has officially concluded.  You should re-enter your building and go back to your office or continue class as scheduled.

Note* Mobility Challenged Individuals are encouraged to do the following:

If you are in a wheelchair: Lock your wheels and remain seated until the shaking stops.  Always protect your head and neck with your arms, a pillow, book, or whatever may be available.

  • Practice your individual emergency evacuation plan during the evacuation phase of this drill.
  • Relocate to an Area of Assistance (if you are on a floor that does not exit directly outdoors) and wait there until the drill is complete.
  • Please refer to the Emergency Action Plan for more information

OEM’s first Preparedness Festival was a huge success

If you were at the Annandale campus on September 24th or the Loudoun campus on the 25th, you probably thought you were seeing things.  Maybe you even thought a few students were dressing up a little early for Halloween.  Rest assured, your eyes were not deceiving you – the zombies invaded those campuses as part of OEM’s Preparedness Festival.  September is National Preparedness Month and OEM used the zombies to help bring attention to the need for preparation. 

If you missed out on all the action or are a student/faculty/staff at another campus and want to see the news coverage of what took place, click here.  You can also take a look at pictures of the events on NOVA’s Facebook page, You Tube site, or Twitter account

Remember, OEM wants you to be prepared for an emergency.  You can find out more on how to prepare an emergency kit at Virginia’s Department of Emergency Management website or at FEMA’s website.