October 16, 20141149Views

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.

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

“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.

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.