July 23, 20051568Views
Close to 40 persons from the East End/Long Look community have been learning more about disaster preparedness and mitigation and will conclude their Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training today.
They represent the largest group of persons to be trained in the sessions facilitated by the BVI Red Cross and the Department of Disaster Management (DDM).
 The training concludes today, July 22 but will be followed by a full scale simulation exercise planned for September to test the skills and knowledge of the team members. 
Disaster Risk Reduction Officer with the BVI Red Cross, Mr. Jason Lyons said he anticipated the large turnout based on the work done in the community to encourage persons to participate.  “This is in fact the largest group that we have seen since we started the CERT training in Anegada last year. I am encouraged by the level of interest demonstrated in this training and we have done our best to accommodate everyone who signed up.”
 Mr. Lyons explained that the CERT training requires a joint approach by skilled organisations such as the BVI Red Cross, the BVI Fire and Rescue Service and the DDM.  “The CERT training programme is designed to bring together volunteers who can be trained in basic disaster response skills and who agree to support existing emergency responders in the event of emergencies or disasters occurring within their communities.  The facilitators therefore come from among the local emergency response agencies in the BVI,” Mr. Lyons stated.
DDM Director, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo explained that once persons are trained they are encouraged to establish a formal a CERT.  “I was especially pleased to see the number of young persons who signed up for the course in East End Long Look; this is key to ensuring sustainability of the programme and it demonstrates the eagerness of young persons to get involved in their communities and to serve in a meaningful way.”
 She explained that after the training in Anegada last year the participants on that island formed a team known as Anegada Zonal Disaster Management Team and members have already been involved in response type operations taking place on Anegada and also supported preparedness and mitigation activities taking place within their communities.
Through their training, CERTs develop capacity to perform data gathering, locate mass-casualties requiring professional help, assess situations requiring professional rescues, conduct simple fire-fighting tasks, undertake light search and rescue, conduct damage evaluation of structures and apply triage and first aid. CERTs represent an important asset in any national level disaster management programme and are even more critical in small islands with the type of geographical spread that exists in the British Virgin Islands.
The DDM has also established a Teen CERT, comprising students from the various high schools throughout Tortola.  The Teen CERT members recently came together to test their skills as part of a refresher course.
The next CERT training is expected to take place in the Sea Cow’s Bay district.  Persons interested in participating can contact Jason Lyons at the BVI Red Cross or DDM’s Training Officer, Carishma Hicks.
Photo Captions:
  • BVI Red Cross Disaster Risk Reduction Officer, Mr. Jason Lyons facilitates one of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training sessions for residents of the East End/Long Look community. 
  • Fire officers from the BVI Fire and Rescue Service engage the CERT trainees in East End/Long Look in fire suppression training.