DDM Introduces Emergency Response Training To Teenagers

Tortola, British Virgin Islands, October 18th, 2013 (DDM) - The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is widening the scope of its effort to create more disaster resilient communities in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Recognising the importance of youth involvement, the department in collaboration with the BVI Red Cross and the BVI Fire and Rescue Services, has launched a pilot initiative for teenagers designed to equip them with basic disaster management skills.

The Community Emergency Response Team training for teenagers (Teen CERT) got underway at the DDM headquarters Wednesday with 12 teens participating.Students participating in the DDM Teen CERT training programme

The first session provided them with an introduction to Teen CERT and a general overview of disaster preparedness. Over the next seven weeks, they will be engaged in sessions on topics such as disaster psychology, medical first triage, basic search and rescue, emergency communication and fire suppression.

By the end of the training programme, the teens will be certified to perform CPR and they will also be trained in basic water safety.

DDM’s Information and Education Manager, Philomena Robertson said “the DDM envisions that the Teen CERT training will produce a corps of teenagers who will be adequately trained and capable of responding to emergency situations and disasters. In the ideal setting, they would work alongside adult CERT members or other emergency responders but the training sessions will equip them with the necessary skills to help themselves and others in responding to disasters.”

Ms. Robertson added, “similar to the mandate given to members of the adult CERT teams established on the sister islands of Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke, the Teen CERT members will be required to act as disaster advocates in their communities and among their peers, encouraging them to be disaster ready. The ultimate objective is to achieve more disaster resilient communities. We may not always be able to prevent a disaster but we can certainly take action that will minimise the impact of that disaster.”

Mr. Jason Lyons, Disaster Risk Reduction Manager at the BVI Red Cross Society will be facilitating some of the Teen CERT training sessions. He said their involvement is in keeping with the goal of the Red Cross to bring disaster preparedness into the community.

“The BVI Red Cross found it necessary to target the gap that exists as we endeavour to build a culture of preparedness, a culture of mitigation here in the BVI. This Teen CERT programme will help us to bridge that gap by developing the skills of the youth and ensuring that they are better prepared to mitigate,” Mr. Lyons said, adding, “ultimately we want to ensure that the BVI is better prepared to deal with any eventuality.”Students participating in the DDM Teen CERT training programme

Other facilitators include DDM’s Deputy Director, Ms. Evangeline Inniss; Training Officer, Ms. Carishma Hicks; Emergency Communications Officer, Mr. Jasen Penn and Assistant Information Officer, Mr. Cecil Jeffrey; Sub Officer Mr. Geraldo Barry of the BVI Fire and Rescue Services and Ms. Martine Allee of The Swim School.

It is envisaged that the Teen CERT training will be considered as part of the graduation prerequisites for secondary school students who are now required to engage in community service.
The students participating in Teen CERT represent the Elmore Stoutt High School, Cedar International School, St. Georges Secondary and Seventh Day Adventist as well as youth volunteers affiliated with the DDM and BVI Red Cross. The programme will conclude on November 28 with a ceremony at the DDM headquarters.

CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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