June 20, 2014979Views

The multi-agency response
mounted as part of the simulated boat collision at Trellis Bay on Thursday saw
first responders rescuing and treating 32 victims.

The simulation exercise
spearheaded by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and officers from
the Royal Navy Ship, HMS Protector sought to test local capacity to execute
maritime search and rescue operations in the Territory’s waters. The scenario
involved the collision of two vessels, one of which overturned, throwing
passengers into the waters and the other receiving minor damage, resulting in
it taking on water.

DDM’s Training Officer,
Carishma Hicks explained, “Due to the maritime nature of the exercise, the
response included the deployment of three rescue boats from the Marine Unit of
the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) and the BVI Airports Authority
Fire and Rescue Unit; while the land-based operations included responders from
the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service, the RVIPF, the BVI Red Cross and
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members.”

A debriefing session was
held immediately following the exercise where participants were able to share
their views and evaluators provided their assessment.

Ms. Hicks said, “The main
concerns coming out of the exercise were the need to improve triaging
applications during the initial phase of an incident and strengthening of
command and control at the scene.  It is
expected that these gaps will be addressed through a joint training programme
that will be developed to strengthen the skills needed among these key response

The DDM Training Officer
added, “It is important for agencies to continuously practice their emergency
response procedures. We have seen the benefits of frequent exercising of plans
and procedures within businesses, schools and response agencies.  We cannot tell when an emergency will occur,
therefore we have to be fully prepared and regular exercising helps to achieve
the desired level of preparedness.”

DDM Director, Ms. Sharleen
DaBreo who was one of the evaluators at Thursday’s exercise said, “I was
especially pleased that the Governor was at the scene to witness the
operations.  He now has firsthand
knowledge of the issues we face and what is needed to build local capacity in
the area of search and rescue.  The
exercise served to confirm the recommendations contained in a recently
completed report on the current search and rescue capacity in the BVI.”

Ms. DaBreo identified a
number of highlights illustrated during the exercise.  “The surgeon on board the HMS Protector, who
served as an evaluator, indicated how impressed he was with the manner in which
the collection point and the medical post were managed.  The BVI Airports Authority also came in for
high praises for their ability to provide marine assets and initial responders
within three minutes of receiving the distress call and there was a high level
of collaboration among the responding agencies.”

A record number of
volunteers from the BVI Red Cross and the recently trained Community Emergency
Response Team (CERT) from Purcell Estate were also present and provided
outstanding support to the operations. 
Their involvement in these types of events is critical as they provide
the initial medical and psychosocial care and support needed for victims.