NASSAU, The Bahamas – Twenty-five participants of the National Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA) Basic Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training for tourism-sector workers successfully completed the five-day session that concluded Saturday (October 23) at SuperClubs Breezes resort. The majority of the participants represented a number of New Providence’s smaller hotel properties.
The CERT Training was made available through grant funding from the Organization of American States (OAS) in the amount of US$17,000 through its “Build the Resilience of Small Tourism Enterprises in the Caribbean to Disasters” Project, and an additional $8,000 in training materials/equipment from the Caribbean Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), based in Bridgetown, Barbados. The training covered areas such as CPR, First Aid, Light Search and Rescue, Disaster Medical Operations, Disaster Psychology, Fire Safety and Utility Controls, Disaster Preparedness, and CERT and Terrorism.
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Myles Laroda, said CERT Training affords the country’s Disaster and Emergency Managers and Planners additional opportunities to: "build a ‘Culture of Preparedness’ in The Bahamas as life-threatening emergencies can happen, and Emergency First Responders aren’t always nearby."
State Minister Laroda, who also has responsibility for the National Emergency Management Agency and the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) among his other portfolio duties, applauded the successes of the tourism-sector participants, saying that it was crucial and can have positive impacts across various sectors of the tourism industry and the tourism infrastructure – including the smaller hotel properties.
“We are all aware of the setback caused to our tourism sector, and the economy in general, due to the impact of Hurricane Dorian on the Abacos and Grand Bahama,” State Minister Laroda said. “But we do not have to experience an event as severe as Dorian to have significant negative consequences in the tourism sector. For example, there may be a mishap during a boating excursion or Jet Ski experience and if the response is ineffective, the fallout due to negative reporting alone can be significant.
“It is my understanding that the participants in this CERT programme engaged in a very practical exercise that simulated a structural collapse of four balconies on the west wing of these resort facilities. Should something like that occur in the facilities where you are employed, you would want to have the best outcome for yourselves and your guests. It is essential for us to build a ‘Culture of Preparedness’ in The Bahamas as life-threatening emergencies can happen, and emergency first responders aren’t always nearby. You may be able to save a life by taking simple actions immediately. You are the help until help arrives,” Minister Laroda added.
Established in The Bahamas in 2004, the CERT programme educates volunteers from the community about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.
CERT offers an approach to volunteer training and organization that Emergency First Responders can rely on during disaster situations and/or emergencies, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks.
State Minister LaRoda said: “Emergencies and disasters may occur in our communities at any time, and often at times when we least expect. In order to be prepared to respond effectively to emergencies and disasters, the involvement of communities is crucial [as] life-threatening injuries require immediate action to prevent an injured person from dying. Those nearest to someone with life-threatening injuries are best positioned to provide first care.”