BVI First Responders Receive Mass Casualty Management Training

Tortola, British Virgin Islands, 19 September, 2013 (DDM) - More than 30 emergency first responders in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are this week improving their skills in mass casualty management.

They are participating in course coordinated by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) in collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO). The week-long session is designed to sharpen the response skills of mass casualty responders, enabling them to effectively manage human and other resources while responding to such an event.


DDM’s Training Officer, Ms. Carishma Hicks outlined the objectives as being “to give participants a clear understanding of potential risks and mitigating circumstances for disasters; illustrate the situations that could lead to mass casualties; demonstrate the key principles to be applied in organising a disaster site and guide key responders to maximise resources and work collaboratively during mass casualty events.”

Ms. Hicks, herself a participant in the course, further stated that hands-on experience will be provided through the many field exercises included in the course agenda. “We want to ensure that participants gain working knowledge of a mass casualty triage systems, stabilising victims and coordinating their organised transfer to primary, secondary and tertiary care facilities and an understanding of the impact of natural, technological and social hazards, radio communications, command system, supply management and stress management in disasters.”Emergency Communications Officer at the DDM, Mr. Jasen Penn delivers a presentation on Radio Communications to participants in the week-long Mass Casualty Management Training workshop being held at HLSCC

According to PAHO, a mass casualty incident is regarded as a single event that impacts negatively on a community, causing a number of casualties that outstrip the community’s ability to respond in a normal way.

PAHO’s system for mass casualty management involves the mobilisation of trained personnel to stabilise victims in the field. The methodology which constitutes a blend of French, British and American systems advocates a multi-sectoral response featuring a well-coordinated rescue chain of responders comprising of police, fire, search and rescue, marine and emergency medical technicians.

The course is being conducted by five local instructors from the BVI Health Services Authority, Airports Authority and Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Services under the guidance of PAHO’s Quality Assurance Expert, Colour Sergeant (Retired) Mr. Peter Burgess. At the end of this course, which includes an overnight exercise, the trainers will be certified as PAHO Mass Casualty Management Instructors.

Underscoring the need for mass casualty management training, Mr. Burgess said “the course prepares participants to deal with things such as responding to any type of mass casualty incident, effective coordination and control, incident command and having a multi-sectoral response.”

Mr. Burgess said participants are very keen. “The level of interest and understanding among the participants is outstanding and they are showing a keen interest in learning about mass casualties. From the questions we are getting, it is evident that the course will be beneficial to all present.”

Participants in the course represent the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, BVI Fire and Rescue Services, Department of Customs, BVI Red Cross and the DDM. Those who successfully complete the course and attain at least 70 percent on the written tests will be eligible to receive a three-year Certificate in Mass Casualty Management.