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  • NEMA AND U.S NORTHERN COMMAND HELD BAHAMAS WILDLAND FIRE TRAINING WORKSHOP

    The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and its partner the US Northern Command facilitated a firefighting workshop for a group of volunteer firefighters, as part of its national disaster mitigation and preparedness programme. Based on the concept ‘Train the Trainer,’ NEMA has recognized the challenges Family Island residents are faced with when dealing with disasters, which include fires, threatening their local communities. A three-day Knowledge Exchange Workshop was held June 28-30, 2017 at NEMA on Gladstone Road, during which 15 volunteers were armed with practical and theoretical skills to combat various types of fires. The participants in the “Programme for Training Bahamas Fire Brigade” represented the Royal Bahamas Police Fire Branch, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Forestry Unit, the Airport Authority Fire Department, and NEMA administrative staff. The purpose of the training was to build capacity by establishing teams of volunteer firefighters in Family Island Districts and provide some degree of capability for the communities to respond safely and in a timely manner to bush, house and building fires.

    The training also aimed to strengthen the knowledge base of participants, increase the capacity and support NEMA’s ability to inform the general public of impending disasters, and to gain further exposure regarding operational and logistical support to national disaster response, reconstruction, documentation and lessons learned. Ongoing, the training will also enable NEMA to continue strengthening its relationship and partnership with all Government, non-governmental, regional and international agencies to better prepare the communities to respond to emergencies and disasters. Plans are also underway to extend the training throughout each Family Island community.

    Captain Stephen Russell, Director of NEMA, underscored the importance of the training, in the wake of recent large fires on New Providence and to some extent smaller fires on the Family Islands. He noted that each Family Island has its challenge, especially as each inhabited island has an International Airport, which must be equipped with firefighting equipment. After sharing the training concept with Fire Chief Walter Evans of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Captain Russell said plans were put in motion to facilitate the training with NEMA’s strategic partner, the United States Northern Command, a Unified Combatant Command of the US Military tasked with providing support in US territories and The Bahamas. Participants engaged in CPR techniques, wilderness first aid, patient assessment, how to use pressure hoses, risk management, standard firefighting orders, fighting fires in poisonous forestry, danger of fire spotting, safety considerations and other best practices.

    Facilitators of the workshop were: (Ret.) Chief Johnny Delgado, Contractor Representative, International Instructor; Captain George Alvarez, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, International Instructor; and other Inter-American Firefighters. NEMA’s organizers were Gayle Outten-Moncur, Senior Assistant Secretary/Operations Manager, NEMA and Wendell Rigby, logistics, NEMA.

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