Community must get involved – CERT training expected to become more commonplace

Bridgetown, Barbados, March 12th, 2013 (Barbados Advocate) - The community is the first line of defence against hazard impacts and are also the first response to hazardous situations when they arise.


So says Robert Harewood, Programme Officer, Department of Emergency Management. Speaking at the opening of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training programme workshop that is taking place this week at the Barbados Defence Force’s Paragon Base, Harewood noted that given those facts, it is imperative that communities are given the necessary training in emergency management, as well the tools that they will need to effectively be the first line of defence.

“Although communities members cannot replace and are not expected to replace bona fide first responders, adequately trained community members would certainly be able to stabilise the situation until first responders arrive. This may be done through, for example, search and rescue operations, medical assistance, incident command and fire abatement,” he added.

With that in mind, the DEM Programme Officer said that his department anticipates that the CERT training will become a more established training programme for communities in Barbados as well as the countries which fall into this sub-region, namely St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.

“Barbados has already benefitted from the ERC [Enhancing Resilience to Reduce Vulnerability in the Caribbean] project by having one of District Emergency Organisations’ members, Miss Maria Mayers, trained in CERT in Grenada in July 2012; while DEM Programme Officer, Mrs. Danielle Skeete was exposed to the best practices in voluneerism of the Italian Civil Protection Department and has already commenced implementation of some of what was introduced there,” he added.

Meanwhile, CDEMA Preparedness and Contingency Planning Specialist, retired Brigadier General Earl Arthurs, reiterated the point that the participants are being prepared to reinforce the frontline.

He reminded them that while they will not be professionals, through adequate training they can ensure that the situation is contained until the professionals arrive at the scene. (JRT)