The intensive training covered Disaster Preparedness, Fire Suppression, Disaster Medical Operations, Light Search and Rescue and Team Organization. The teamdemonstrated their skills in search and rescue, disaster medical and triage, and incident command as they worked the scene to locate, extract, and treat victims. The simulations and exercises provided participants with hands-on experience that helped them hone their newly acquired knowledge and skills. The participants and organisers were commended by observers for their participation, efforts and dedication in ensuring the success of the exercise.
At 8am, a call was made to alert members of the CERT team from the five parishes on Nevis of an 8.5 earthquake, which struck the island of Nevis, south of White Bay.
Base of operation was setup at the Franklyn Browne Community Centre in Combermere. At the Centre, the overall incident commander along with different support groups controlled the information flow that was coming in, and in doing so, they were able to coordinate the deployment of resources.
There were ten scenarios that the teams were given and they were able to successfully complete nine despite the inclement weather. The exercise began with a structure collapse of a multi story building, which had some ten people trapped. Teams were deployed to demonstrate the practises of light search and rescue operations. The team’s skills were also tested at a wild land fire and house fire. Teams were deployed to assist with fire suppressions. They also practised what they would do in a traffic accident. They had a scenario where a three vehicular accident occurred. Persons saw the use of equipment that the fire and rescue service will use “Jaws of life,” their first aid training was also put to practise and they were also able to exercise their incident command system.
Representatives of Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency CDEMA, Organisation of American States and independent observers were present on Nevis to evaluate and observe the exercise.
Ms. Claudine Roberts Community Disaster Planning Specialist from CDEMA commended the organisers for their efforts “It was a very good effort.” She also commended thecommunity people for their participation. “From all reports and what we have seen today, they really made an excellent effort. The response was very good. On the various scenes that we visited, everything fell into place very nicely and I just hope and pray that in the event something like this happens, the level of response, training and rescue efforts that were done this morning, I hope that the people can do the same,” she stated. Ms. Roberts expressed her hope that the community effort, togetherness and teamwork will remain and be a very good assistance to the island.
Brigadier General (R) Earl Arthurs at the culmination of the exercise also gave his observation and also made recommendations. He noted that the exercise was very ambitious and was executed well. He observed the lack of adequate kit and equipment, late arrival of ambulance at some of the sites. He also observed the lack of police presence at the sites. He recommended that a comprehensive disaster management program be instituted at primary schools for early education and training in disaster management. He also recommended that organisers prioritize the areas to be tested for the next exercise, so that the exercises are not overwhelming.
Retired Police Chief Mr. Calvin Fahie who was also an observer commented on the great turn out of participants. He noted that it is good that busy people can put their community first and participate in the exercise. “Too often we take things for granted and I must commend all the stakeholders for at least getting this exercise together,” he said. Mr. Fahie reminded that everyone needs each other and that a community can only prosper by the input of its people. “You cannot depend on government, law enforcement, each and every one of us has our role to do and as such if one lift, it will be heavy but burden becomes lighter when all lift and that is why we are here today,” he concluded.
The Sustainable Communities Project was sponsored by the Organisation of American States (OAS) with funding of US $50,000 by the Government of the United States of America through its State Department and its Permanent Mission to the OAS. Mr. Brian Dyer of NDMA and Fire Sub-Officer Mr. Abdias Samuel coordinated the simulation exercise.