NASSAU, The Bahamas – The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) kicked off its five-day Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Basic Training Programme for residents of the Baillou Hill Estates community, Monday, at Chapel on the Hill Church Hall.
The training is a partnership between NEMA and the Baillou Hill Estates Homeowners Association and is part of NEMA’s resolve to build capacity within individual and collective communities across The Bahamas. Participants also included personnel from the Office of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, in addition to NEMA’s In-house staff.
Conducted by members of NEMA’s Training Department, led by Training Coordinator Mrs. Lisa Bowleg, CERT Training allows participants to “do the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of persons” in respective communities across the archipelago in the event of an emergency or disastrous event.
Participants are schooled in basic emergency response training and preparation that allows them to function effectively in the event of an emergency or disaster within their communities until professional First Responders arrive on the scene. The CERTs will also be able to provide First Responders with any critical information needed to expedite their intervention.
(Instructors for the training include: Chief Petty Officer Romeiko Burrows (Royal Bahamas Defence Force, attached to NEMA), Petty Officer Kenrio Ingraham (Royal Bahamas Defence Force, attached to NEMA); Leading Woman Karia R. Smith (Royal Bahamas Defence Force, attached to NEMA), Wendell Rigby, Reno Williams, Darrell Wright and Frederick Johnson.)
“The training will cover everything from CERT organization to disaster preparedness, medical operations – for example, how to assist with putting a splint on someone if they have a fracture; how to identify the difference between a fracture and a sprain; how to identify whether someone has a spinal injury and how to move them or how not to move them, what techniques you can use to move injured persons from Point A to Point B,” NEMA’s Training Coordinator, Mrs. Lisa Bowleg said.
“We also have scheduled training exercises in Light Search and Rescue, Fire Fighting and Fire Safety, along with a component that is called Disaster Psychology, so that we not only teach our participants how to physically address what is going on, but also mentally and emotionally address what is going on.”
Monday’s training session kicked off with a Tower Building exercise that was designed to build team spirit and camaraderie amongst the participants.
“The idea behind this activity is to help participants to bond, to work as a team, to learn to trust each other -- three key components with any rescue or mission,” Mrs. Bowleg said. “The most successful teams are the ones that bond, that act as one body, and where each member feels that he/she is a part of the team. So this morning we began with the Tower Building Exercise, where we split participants into three teams and each team was responsible of constructing a tower, five-feet tall and with the capability to stand on its own.
“The exercise forces the groups to act as teams and to work in unison in order to be successful. Over the course of the next five days, the participants will remain in those three groups in order to continue the team-building, the bonding, and will learn how to work in unison, how to recognize the leaders in those teams, how to follow instructions, how to bond.”
Mrs. Bowleg said the significance of establishing CERTs throughout communities goes far beyond managing hurricanes.
“We are mandated to prepare our citizens, our communities, for all emergencies and/or disastrous events -- not just hurricanes. It can be a house fire, an explosion, some violence that may have occurred within the community. The CERT teams will be trained on how to identify, how to document, how to report and where and when necessary how to respond so that when the professional First Responders arrive, they will be able to update them as to what has occurred. We do not encourage anybody to run into danger,” Mrs. Bowleg added.