The first person on the scene can make all the difference in the world in an emergency. Having completed an intensive three-day Teen CERT course, 72 Virgin Islands students aged 12 to 18 are ready to step in and assist.
The Department of Disaster Management’s (DDM) Training Officer Carishma Hicks said the Teen CERT programme exposed participants to the theoretical and practical elements of responding to the wide variety of emergencies that can impact the BVI.
“The students learned vital skills in first aid, emergency communications, fire safety and suppression, light search and rescue and disaster psychology,” Ms. Hicks stated. She added, “These skills help them to go out and make their homes, communities and schools safer. This in turn helps the BVI to be more resilient.”
The Teen CERT training was adapted from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and was piloted in the Territory in 2013 with a dozen students. The programme has grown over the intervening years and has become a routine extra-curricular activity at some schools.
Bregado Flax Educational Centre student Trevianne John said the training gave her a more safety-oriented perspective.
“I look at the world differently,” Ms John stated, “Now I know things that can cause fires and can inform persons about how they can be safer.” She said that she is grateful to have learned different things including identifying and responding to a seizure and the correct way to remove disposable gloves.
Teen CERT training sessions were held earlier this month on Tortola and Virgin Gorda through a partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Department of Disaster Management, with funding from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
Minister for Education, Culture, Agriculture, Fisheries, Sports and Youth Affairs, Dr. the Honourable Natalio Wheatley said over the course of the coming year, the partnership is expected to bring more emergency response training to schools around the Territory as part of the expanding SMART Schools programme.
“The disasters of 2017 taught us that we need to build resilience in the Territory and particularly within our education sector,” Honourable Wheatley said, adding, “Naturally, this includes making sure the staff and students within our schools are properly prepared and have the necessary tools to respond to an emergency and to assist the professionals once they arrive on the scene.”
The DDM provides CERT and other training to schools, businesses and community groups. To request training, contact the Department at telephone number 468-4200.