December 10, 20131155Views

The British
Virgin Islands (BVI) continues to play a leading role among member states of
the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), with the
certification of the first teen Community Emergency Response Team (Teen CERT)
in the region.

The Department
of Disaster Management (DDM) spearheaded the pilot initiative in collaboration
with the BVI Red Cross and over the past seven weeks, the students were exposed
disaster preparedness and response skills including water safety and rescue,
basic medical aid and fire suppression techniques.

During the
closing ceremony held at the DDM headquarters, the students were able to
demonstrate the skills learnt with the staging of a simulation exercise which
received tumultuous applause from the parents, DDM staff members and emergency
first responders who were present.

remarks at the ceremony, DDM’s Deputy Director, Ms. Evangeline Inniss said the
BVI continues to be a pioneer in the field of disaster management.

“This is a
first, not just for the BVI, but for all of CDEMA’s participating states. The
students who have completed the seven weeks of training represent the first
such group in the region. The DDM obviously places great value on the
contribution that young people can make as we continue to build capacity in
communities across the BVI and we would really like to see this example
emulated in other CDEMA member states.”

CERT was
initially introduced in the BVI about a decade ago but since 2011, the DDM has
sought to revitalize its community based programme and efforts have
particularly focused on building the community emergency response capacity on
the sister islands of Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda.

Ms. Inniss
explained that Teen CERT had its origin in a question posed by a young person
who participated in one of the adult CERT training exercises. “It was a simple
question from a teenager who wanted to know how they can become a certified
member of CERT; but that was the spark that ignited this Teen CERT initiative. What
we are witnessing today is their successful completion of a programme that will
allow them to add significant value to the emergency response capacity of the

Director of
the BVI Red Cross, Mrs. Helen Frett in her remarks commended the DDM for the
initiative to build resilience in communities by equipping the youth. “
We need to continue to
engage the youths in meaningful activities so they can realise their value and
see that their efforts can have a great impact on society,” she stated.

Mrs. Frett
also encouraged the Teen CERT members to see the many benefits that can be
derived from them providing voluntary service to the BVI community. “
By volunteering, you are
being exposed to the world of organised work, you are developing employable
skills, and you will get some work experience. You will also be more motivated,
you will feel better about yourself, and you will build social connections and
employment-focused networks.  You will
have an advantage over your peers who do not volunteer,” she assured them.

The Teen CERT
members also had an opportunity to speak about their involvement in the
programme and there was unanimous agreement that they acquired useful knowledge
and skills that could help save lives or prevent loss in the event of a hazard
impact.  Some members have also expressed
an interest in pursuing formal studies in emergency management and fire science
upon completion of their high school certification.

The students
who represented all of the secondary schools on Tortola have been provided with
CERT kits containing items which will enable them to effectively carry out
their duties when responding to an emergency.

The DDM will continue this programme in 2014 and will
ensure that opportunities are provided for the existing team to practice their
skills and to encourage others to become part of other Teen CERT teams
throughout the Territory.


Photo captions:

Members of the
newly certified Teen Community Emergency Response Team (Teen CERT) display
their CERT, CPR and swimming certificates in this group photo. Also pictured
are DDM staff members as well as representatives from the BVI Red Cross and BVI
Fire and Rescue Service and The Swim School who facilitated the training

A collage
depicting the students practicing various skills during the Teen CERT training.