June 18, 20051716Views

Training Officer, Ms. Carishma Hicks discusses the scenario for the search and
rescue simulation exercise with Sergeant Dervent Murray of the Royal Virgin
Islands Police Force who will serve as the Incident Commander for the exercise.


First responders in the
British Virgin Islands will test their search and rescue (SAR) skills on
Thursday with support from visiting Royal Navy officers aboard the ship HMS

The simulation exercise is
being organised by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), with input and participation from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Virgin Islands Fire
and Rescue Service, BVI Airports Authority and the BVI Red Cross.

DDM’s Training Officer, Ms.
Carishma Hicks who is spearheading the exercise said the intention is to allow
officers, who were recently trained, an opportunity to practice their skills in
executing response measures geared towards a maritime search and rescue
operation in the BVI waters.

  “Several police and fire officers were
trained in this particular area last year, using local expertise and through a
Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency supported initiative, which took
place in Antigua and Barbuda. Thursday’s exercise will present the first such
opportunity to test their competence,” Ms. Hicks stated.

“Capacity building in
disaster management is not restricted to theoretical knowledge. To determine
its effectiveness and relevance, it must be continuously tested, allowing us to
address whatever gaps exist now, rather than wait for an actual event to find
out we have shortcomings in a particular area,” she added.

DDM Director, Ms. Sharleen
DaBreo said Thursday’s exercise would complement a recent consultancy which
sought to determine search and rescue capacity levels in the BVI.

“While significant maritime
search and rescue capacity exists in the BVI, it is centralised. In addition,
we must significantly improve the urban search and rescue skills and techniques
of our responders to meet United Nations international standards,” Ms. DaBreo

She further stated that “Given
the findings of the consultant, it is critical that we spread this capacity across
key first responder agencies including the RVIPF and the domestic and airport
fire and rescue services and ensure that formal arrangements are established
with non-governmental and voluntary organisations that can support these

The local first responders
will benefit from support provided by the crew from aboard the HMS Protector,
which is currently anchored in BVI waters. “The ship’s crew have been engaged
in their own series of exercises since anchoring in the BVI, testing their
ability to respond to any emergency while in the Caribbean.

The Commanding Officer and
three crew members from HMS Protector have also had discussions with the DDM on
ways the ship can bring support to the Territory in the event of an emergency.

There is also a specialist
humanitarian aid and disaster relief team aboard HMS Protector and the ship
holds a humanitarian pack filled with equipment that can be used in emergency
response operations.

His Excellency Governor
Boyd McCleary will witness the simulation exercise from aboard the ship. In his
capacity as Chairman of the National Disaster Management Council, the Governor has
responsibility for disaster preparedness and response.