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Adjunct EMS Faculty Travels to Haiti to Help

Jeff Lewis has been an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) adjunct faculty member for eight years at NOVA. His “day job,” however, is Captain II of Fairfax County’s Fire and Rescue, where he also functions as the Medical Team Coordinator for the Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR). The Fairfax USAR team, also known as Virginia Task Force One or “VATF-1,” is one of only two teams in the country that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) authorizes to deploy internationally to give aid and provide rescue missions. Therefore, they were one of the very first teams deployed when the 7.0 earthquake hit the poverty-stricken country of Haiti. The first team of 72 members arrived in Haiti less than 24 hours after the first quake. The second team of 42 members was also deployed and arrived two days later.

Holly Frost, Assistant Dean of EMS, and also director of the Anatomy Lab at NOVA’s Medical Education Campus assists the USAR team by coordinating and assisting in instructing an annual training at the anatomy lab. The medical component of the USAR team is made up of paramedics and physicians. During the training session, they practice the very same lifesaving skills, utilizing donated human cadavers, that they used often in Haiti to rescue the earthquake victims. Practicing these critical skills on a frequent basis is essential, as time is of the essence during an actual emergency.

The USAR team was formed originally in 1986 and has been deployed throughout the world and domestically as well. They have been on more than 60 diverse missions, from Olympic and Inaugural standbys, to responses to earthquakes in China, Burma and Bolivia, bombings in Kenya and the Indonesian Tsunami.

For their work in Haiti, the Virginia General Assembly has honored the USAR team by proclaiming two resolutions in their name and put them forth to the governor.

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.