NASSAU, The Bahamas – Officials at the country’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) continued to expand upon the agency’s In-house institutional and intellectual capacity to face a cross-section of emergency events by recently hosting two In-house Certificate Courses for their In-house staff (employees).
The Courses – one on Fire Safety in the Workplace and the other on Active Shooter and Violence in the Workplace -- were part of the year-round training facilitated by the agency’s Training Department under the leadership of Mrs. Lisa Bowleg, Training Coordinator, NEMA, Chief Petty Officer Romeiko Burrows, and a team of Certified Instructors. The Agency is led by Captain Stephen Russell.
The Agency also continues to develop and/or conduct training modules for external groupings as a part of its plan to build similar institutional and intellectual capacity within the country’s workplaces, communities and various groupings – year-round.
(NEMA’s Expert Teams consist of technical, logistical, administrative, and other experts from across government ministries, corporations and departments that serve as Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) and help to form the National Disaster Committee. The In-house team consists of administrative and line staff that serve the Agency’s day-to-day needs.)
“Lisa has been doing an excellent job in expanding our In-house training initiatives and opportunities for staff members since assuming her role as the new training coordinator for NEMA,” Mrs. Gayle Outten-Moncur, NEMA’s Deputy Director, said.
“She has great vision and insight as to how widespread the training should be in order for our In-house staff to be able to function during the different types of safety issues whether they relate to mass shootings, fires, various types of emergencies in the workplace and what their responsibilities are in face of any emergency or event.”
Deputy Director Outten-Moncur said there are many benefits to the training.
"We have been able to secure FEMA Certification (Federal Emergency Management Agency, USA) for most of the training they would have received. This is huge. Additionally, not only will they be able to apply the training they would have received within their workplaces and workspaces, but also in their homes, their communities and their various groupings. In short, it expands our reach into multiple communities simultaneously.”
The second of two training modules conducted within a two-week span, the Fire Safety Training was conducted by Chef Petty Officer Burrows, Petty Officer Kenrio Ingraham (Royal Bahamas Defence Force attached to NEMA) and Mr. Reno Williams, all certified Fire Safety Training Instructors (NEMA).
The session was divided into Theory and Practical, the latter of which involved the use of a digital fire extinguisher and digital fireboard donated by USNORTHCOM that: “simulates an actual fire in terms of the extinguishing parts of it. The digital fire extinguisher has three, different functions in terms of extinguishing -- Class A, B and C fires and can increase the difficulty of the fire which gives the training audience a real feel/a real experience as to using an actual extinguisher to effectively fight a fire,” CPO Burrows said.
Mrs. Bowleg said: “The aim of the Fire Safety Training was to make staff even more aware of their environment; to help them to identify where our exit points are, where our extinguishers are, and where our fire alarm systems are because the bottom line is that, in the workplace, we depend on each other and so if something is happening in one section of the workplace, we want every single staff member to be able to address it. By providing them with the knowledge and expertise now, we know that, if a situation occurs, we have more than enough people who are equipped, able, and capable to assist, In-house.”
A key component of Fire Safety, Mrs. Bowleg continued, is understanding when to leave. Instructors repeatedly cautioned participants on this point.
“There are only 5 seconds you have to try to extinguish a fire and if that 5 seconds expires and you realize that you have not done so, then you have to leave. You need to get into a safe space and so the training today is going to help the staff understand not just how to fight a (small) fire, but when to actually leave.”
She said the expectation coming out of the training is to ensure that once the participants would have received this information, once they would have received the knowledge, that they would take that knowledge into their homes, into their communities, into their various social clubs and be able to share with others “because an educated nation is going to be a safe nation at the end of the day.”
“If we have more knowledge about what is happening, then we have more opportunities to prevent what could happen and so the hope today is that we can get at least 20 of our staff trained and knowledgeable about what is happening within their workspace as it relates to fire safety and be able to carry that home and into their communities.
“Our Agency has responsibility for managing emergencies in-country and so it only makes sense that our In-house staff possess the individual capacity and knowledge to deal with any emergency. One of the things we have said to staff is that they are the frontrunners of the National Emergency Management Agency and so when people come or call, they should be in a position to answer a question; that they should be able to give some type of guidance or some type of instruction as to how people can remain safe in an emergency. The only way for that to happen is for the staff to be trained, for them to know what is happening, and to expand the institution’s staffing capacity as a whole,” Mrs. Bowleg added.