Police officers being trained in emergency care and treatment

Tortola, British Virgin Islands, October 16, 2014 (DDM) - Eleven police officers from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) are developing their first responder skills this week through training in Emergency Care and Treatment (ECAT).

The week-long course is organised by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) as part of its annual training programme with support from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO). It is designed to develop officers’ skills as first responders, specifically in the area of patient care and assessment at the scene of injury, illness or catastrophe.


Explaining the purpose of the course, facilitator Mr. Peter Burgess, a retired officer from the Barbados Defence Force said police officers play a key role as first responders and must be able to provide quick and appropriate interventions on the scene to save lives. The ECAT course is considered part of the Emergency Medical System and is certified by PAHO through various forms of assessments.

Mr. Burgess who has been part of the PAHO instructor team for more than 15 years and has taught this course in many other Caribbean islands, indicated that he was impressed with the level of interest and skill base evident among the RVIPF officers.

“I realise it is a difficult time for the participating officers considering that one of their fellow officers recently passed away. This may be one reason for the level of enthusiasm I am seeing and the level of questioning by many of them. This training will definitely equip them to identify signs and symptoms of illnesses or injuries and provide the necessary intervention,” the PAHO trainer said.

“Medical response capacity for large scale events can be challenging,” Mr. Burgess acknowledged, adding “the more first responders we train, the more support mechanisms we will be building within these organisations to ensure the capacity to deal with such events.”

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Superintendent St. Clair Amory of the RVIPF who has responsibility for Emergency Management and is the Strategic Lead for Training, said the ECAT training will bolster the work of officers.

“The RVIPF provides command and control services for local incidents and in many instances police officers are the first responders at a scene. We therefore have to ensure that officers are adequately trained in emergency procedures and can provide life-saving measures when it becomes necessary,” he said.

DDM’s Training Officer, Ms. Carishma Hicks, who is responsible for organising the course, explained that the department has restructured its training programme to incorporate the development of relevant competence among emergency responders.

“We want to ensure that we are providing courses that are directly beneficial to response agencies. It is our intention to establish a performance based system that will allow for the testing of skills and to determine whether or not professional excellence is being maintained in response type activities,” Ms. Hicks stated.

“We have been working with PAHO to establish these competency standards which will define the stages of attainment at various levels within emergency response organisations. The immediate benefits of this approach are that we can test effectiveness of the training; improve recruitment processes within the various organisations and identify training gaps which eventually will lead to improved efficiency, productivity, safety and retention,” she further explained.

The ECAT Course is one of several offered by the Pan American Health Organisation. Other courses include Mass Casualty Management, Incident Command Systems and Stress Management in Disasters. These courses are offered to responders throughout the Caribbean through Ministries of Health or National Disaster Offices.

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