September 11, 20131433Views

Six officers from the Royal
Virgin Islands Police Force and the BVI Fire and Rescue Services are now better
equipped to conduct urban search and rescue.

Fire Officers Gregory
Alleyne and Alston Richardson; Sub Officer Elvin Forbes; Police Constable Troy
St. Helen; and Detective Constables Michael Isles and Quacey Cooper were among
29 persons from various disciplines participating in the week-long course in
Antigua and Barbuda.

The just concluded Urban
Search and Rescue Light Level Course (USAR LL) was coordinated by the Caribbean
Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), which envisions having six
internationally certified USAR LL technicians in each CDEMA member state.

In a press release, CDEMA
described the training as physically and mentally challenging because it
entailed a mix of “classroom and intense periods of practical exercises”. The
CDEMA press release also noted that “participants were evaluated on what was
learned through nine paper-based tests combined with practical exercises.  Participants who are successful at the
examinations are certified at the International Search and Rescue Advisory
Group (INSARAG) – Americas’ standard.”

According to the CDEMA
release, Chief Instructor Mr. Abdias Samuel was “satisfied with the standards
achieved on this basic course and challenged the technicians to continue to
develop their skill.”

Mr. Abdias and his team of
five instructors have also identified potential instructors, whom they have
recommended for advance training. Three of the local participants are among the
12 recommended for advance training.

Chief Fire Officer Mr. Zebalon
McClean is high in praise for the officers who completed the training in
collapsed structure rescue and underscored the importance of building local
competency. “We cannot take for granted that what has been happening regularly
around the world will not happen here. It is always good to have internal
resources that can be easily accessed if a situation ever arises where such
skills are needed. Training not only enhances the skills of officers but it
allows them to develop the required competencies to progress through the ranks
of the BVIFRS.”

Superintendant of Police, Mr.
St. Clair Amory also offered words of commendation for the local participants
and is particularly pleased with the performance of the police officers.
“Training will always be beneficial to the police because we are normally the
first responders. Even if police officers are going into an emergency situation
with fire as the lead, we should be able to offer valuable assistance with
regard to preserving life and this is exactly what this course prepared them to
do. I am very excited about the performance of the officers because it shows
they were serious about what they went to do and were able to demonstrate that
to the instructors.”

The USAR LL Training
Programme is a collaborative effort between CDEMA and the United States Aid for
International Development/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA).
The programme was piloted in Panama in December 2007, with subsequent training
sessions in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia, the Bahamas and
most recently, Antigua and Barbuda. To date, more than 170 persons from 17
CDEMA states have been trained including 11 certified instructors, some of whom
were among the instructors in Antigua and Barbuda.

The DDM worked with
CDEMA to facilitate BVI participation in the training which was made possible
with support from CDEMA’s Comprehensive Disaster Management Harmonization
Implementation Programme (CDM HIP) through the Canadian International Development
Agency, United Kingdom AID and Australian AID funding; and the Enhancing
Resilience to Reduce Vulnerability in the Caribbean Region (ERC) Project
through funding from Italian International Centre on Environmental Monitoring

Photo Caption: BVI and other participants jubilant at the conclusion of the final exercise which marked the culmination of the week-long intensive course which focused on collapsed structure rescue.