Members of the Territory’s Search and Rescue Team (TSART) have been developing their swimming and water rescue skills through their participation in a ten week training session.
The ‘Water Safety and Swimming’ training was delivered by Caribbean Emergency Preparedness Solutions and was organized by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM).
DDM’s Training Officer, Carishma Hicks explained that the training was a necessary aspect of the team’s development to enable them to meet international standards and efficiently carry out their duties.
She said, “The training is part of our plan to build on TSARTs skills and techniques which will enable them to meet international requirements for certification through the Urban Search and Rescue Standards developed by the Emergency Management Accreditation Programme (EMAP) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).”
Ms. Hicks added that, “The team was developed in 2014 as a specialised group based on an endorsement by Cabinet. They are expected to be capable of responding and assisting in various search and rescue and emergency situations on land and on sea. Therefore, the department developed swimming and water safety competency requirements to ensure that all members have the ability to assist during water rescues and other emergencies that may arise in the marine environment”.
The training focused on several topics to include swim anatomy, hydrodynamics, body balance, breathing, swimming techniques and rescue techniques. Participants were also tested through drills to ensure that they understood the lessons and techniques taught and are able to put the skills into practice. The final test involved swimming in open water, application of buddy tow techniques and treading water. In addition, TSART members were required to satisfy the minimum requirement of 80% of the total number of lessons conducted in order to successfully complete the training.
The training was conducted in pool and sea conditions to expose participants to the different elements which exist in both environments and to ensure that they are able to navigate the sea conditions which could sometimes hamper rescue operations.
Ms. Hicks thanked the management of The Tamarind Club and Turtle Bay Resort (formally Lambert Beach Resort) for the use of the pools to allow the training to take place. She also encouraged the trainees to continue to practice what they have learned and to be prepared for the advanced training that will be scheduled for later on in the year.
She added, “These basic skills can only be strengthened through practice, so I encourage all members to not view this as another course they have simply passed but instead to seek out opportunities on their own to nurture the skills and to develop a routine which allows them to constantly test themselves”.
TSART members received training in international standards for search consideration and techniques, incident command system, rope rescue, communications, maps compasses and land navigation in 2014 and 2015.
TSART is comprised of 22 members from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service, the BVI Airports Authority Fire and Rescue and Her Majesty’s Customs.