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TERRITORIAL SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM ON THE PATH TO ACCREDITATION

TERRITORIAL SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM ON THE PATH TO ACCREDITATION

September 16, 20151476Views

Wednesday, September 16 – Members of the Territorial Search and
Rescue Team (TSART) participated in the Incident Command Systems Training programme
organised through the Department of Disaster Management.

The Territorial Search and Rescue Team is
an initiative approved by Cabinet to establish local capacity to respond to all
types of search and rescue emergencies whether on land or at sea and to work in
conjunction with voluntary organizations.

Training Officer at the DDM Ms. Carishma Hicks said that
in 2014, Cabinet approved the development of a Territorial Team comprising of
equal representatives from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and the Virgin
Islands Fire and Rescue Service. She said Cabinet agreed on several objectives including
the establishment of
a specialized national Search and Rescue (SAR) team,
comprising of fifteen to twenty (15 to 20) officers from the Royal Virgin
Islands Police Force (RVIPF) and the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Services
(VIFRS); this team is to be trained, equipped and resourced according to
international standards identified in the Capability Assessment Review report.

Ms Hicks said, ÒWe began training the team
in December of 2014 to apply basic navigation techniques and this year members
participated in a search and rescue exercise held on Anegada along with
officers from the RFA Lyme Bay and community volunteers.Ó

She added that the training programme
continued with Incident Command System Training, supported by the Pan American
Health Organisation (PAHO), and that in November the team will participate in
Rope Rescue at levels I and II which will be facilitated by the Caribbean
Emergency Response Training Academy (CERTA) based in the BVI as well as Search
Techniques and Considerations through the BVI Red Cross.

The DDMÕs training officer stated that the
TSART is being developed in a manner so that it can be eligible for
accreditation through the Urban Search and Rescue Standards developed by the
Emergency Management Accreditation Programme (EMAP) and the International
Maritime Organization (IMO).
  She said the
intention is also to have the team certified for regional and international
deployment through the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group, which is
a global network of more than 80 countries and organisations endorsed by the
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/150 of 2002, on ÒStrengthening
the Effectiveness and Coordination of International Urban Search and Rescue
AssistanceÓ

Retired Colour Sargent from the Barbados
Defense Force and PAHO Regional Trainer, Mr. Peter Burgess facilitated the ICS training
and commended the Government of the BVI for the efforts being made to establish
a Territorial team, something he says is lacking throughout the region.

Mr. Burgess said, ÒSearch and Rescue Teams
are becoming more and more critical for response type operations and this was
clearly demonstrated following the passage of Hurricane Erika on the island of
Dominica.  External support was required
to assist with locating; extricating and stabilizing persons who were injured
or trapped due to the numerous landslides and the significant flooding that
took place on Dominica.Ó

            Mr.
Burgess said that it is important that Governments pay particular attention to
ensuring that this resource is immediately accessible to them, especially
considering the magnitude of the events that have affected the region in the
past.

He also added, ÒIt is important that any
search and rescue team being developed is trained to face the complexity of the
operations that can occur in the BVI and the wider Caribbean.  This area of response requires a highly
skilled and disciplined group that can respond to a variety of hazard impacts
and that can be immediately available for deployment.Ó

The DDM is aiming to have the team fully
equipped and ready for accreditation and certification by 2018.

Members of the TSART include Steve George,
Esau Andrews, Darrin Malone, Rolland Jackson, Terry Humphrey, Jermaine Agard,
Algon Smikle, Collis Fraser, Dariel Robinson, Ron Augustine from the Royal
Virgin Islands Police Force and Elroy Chalwell, David Ronan, Elnathan White,
Benson Thomas, Gaston Walters, Marcus Malone, Mervin Chinnery, Patrick Victor,
Alexander Parillon, Samuel Lettsome and from the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue
Service.

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Notes to Editors:

Photo 1 Ð Mr Peter Burgess lecturing TSART
members on the Incident Command System

Photo 2 Ð TSART Members Augustin (right)
and Andrews (left) demonstrating their understanding of the Incident Command
System