Emergency responders benefit from search and rescue training

Tortola, British Virgin Islands, June 4th, 2013 (DDM) - Local emergency responders are presently in intense training in search and rescue techniques this month to enhance their skills and obtain certification in specialised areas of emergency response operations.

Monday, June 3 signaled the beginning of the two-week course in water safety for members of the VI Fire and Rescue Service and the BVI Airports Authority. This will be followed by training in water rescue for members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force from June19 to 21.

 

This course is being facilitated by The Swim School and The Surf Life Saving Organisation in the Territory. It is aimed at improving swimming skills and responders’ abilities to perform well during water-borne incidents.Fire Fighters from the BVIAA taking part in Water Safety Training.

Speaking on the importance of the training, Deputy Director of the Department of Disaster Management Ms. Evangeline Inniss said, “Following a disaster, search and rescue professionals can offer vital assistance in response and recovery efforts.”

Ms. Innis, who is spearheading this programme, added, “In order to nurture and cultivate strong Search and Rescue teams, a comprehensive approach to training must take place that is based on developing specific competencies among our responders.”

The training will continue with a one week course in vehicle extrication for fire officers facilitated by the St. Maarten Fire Department. Officers will receive theoretical and practical instructions on the established standards and regulations for vehicle extrication. They would then be tested in both areas to officially certify their skills.

During the last week of June, fire officers and police officers will engage in the intricacies of high angle rescue and incident command systems. They will discuss rope rescue and the use of static ropes, anchoring, belaying and friction rappel devices. Additionally, they will learn about other components designed to achieve a mechanical advantage for hauling systems, and other specialised equipment to reach victims and safely recover them. This training will be facilitated by a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) trainer and retired Barbados Defence Force Colour Sergeant Peter Burgess. Burgess was an instrumental part of the Search and Rescue team for the Arch Cot cave-in Barbados.

Chief Fire Officer Mr. Zebalon McLean indicated that the VI Fire and Rescue Service with support from the DDM, initiated a similar training programme in 1998 and, through that programme they were able to establish strong links with regional partners to support the ongoing training needs of emergency responders.

He explained that the training now taking place was necessary to enhance skills among the new fire officers and was extremely pleased to work with the DDM again in this regard.

“My time spent at the DDM and my years as a Fire Officer has allowed me to appreciate the need for continued training and skill development and to ensure that responders from various agencies train and work together on a regular basis,” he said.

He further said, “Our newly enhanced strategic plan calls for greater focus on meeting standards. We must ensure that certification is obtained for skilled functions performed by our officers.”

The training programme is being funded by the Governor’s Office and the Africa Caribbean Pacific - European Union’s (ACP-EU) Natural Disaster Facility Disaster Risks Management Sub-Regional Programme, which is managed by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency’s (CDEMA) Coordinating Unit.

More details on the outcome of the specific courses will be provided through local media coverage to be broadcast through the Ministry of Communication and Works’ public relations programmes.