CERT Network grows by additional 17 at end of latest exercise

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Permanent Secretary in the Office of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, Mr. Carl F. Smith, with graduates of the National Emergency Management Agency’s Basic Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training Programme prior to addressing Friday’s Closing Ceremony and Presentation of Certificates at the Chapel on the Hill Church Hall. Seventeen persons graduated from the Training Programme. A second cohort began their training Monday, March 28. (BIS Photo/Mark Ford)

The country’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Network grew by an additional 17 persons following graduation ceremonies for the most recent participants of the National Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA) Basic Community Emergency Response Team Training Programme in New Providence.

A Certificate Course, the CERT Programme educates community volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area while also training those volunteers in basic disaster/emergency response skills such as fire safety and utility controls, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster/emergency medical operations.

CERT Training provides community volunteers with the skillset needed to do the greatest amount of good, for the greatest amount of persons in their communities in the shortest amount of time, until the Professional First Responders arrive, allowing those Professional First Responders to focus on more complex tasks.

Part I of the two-part, five-day CERT Training was held March 21-25 at the Chapel on the Hill Church Hall. Part II of the CERT Training opened Monday (March 28) and will conclude Friday, April 1. Both sessions are facilitated by members of NEMA’s Training Department, headed by Mrs. Lisa Bowleg, Training Coordinator. Instructors include: Mr. Wendell Rigby, NEMA; 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 Marine Karia R. Smith (Royal Bahamas Defence Force attached to NEMA), Mr. Reno Williams (NEMA) and Mr. Darrrell Wright. Permanent Secretary in the Office of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, Mr. Carl Smith, called the presence of CERT Teams in Bahamian communities “crucial.”

“Emergencies and disasters may occur in our communities at any time, and oftentimes when we least expect,” Mr. Smith said. “In order to be prepared to respond effectively and efficiently to emergencies and disasters, the involvement of communities is crucial and hence, the importance of CERT Training and CERT Teams.

“The CERT Programme educates volunteers from the communities about disaster preparedness, about the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in some basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.”

Permanent Secretary Smith applauded the participants for their decision in becoming volunteers in the country’s emergency response network. Mr. Smith said CERT Teams can be called upon to volunteer in other communities if the need arises.

(Friday’s graduating class included nine members of the Baillou Hill Estates Homeowners Association/the Baillou Hill Estates Neighbourhood Watch, the Disaster Coordination Unit of the Assemblies of God in The Bahamas, including the Turks and Caicos Islands, In-house staff at the National Emergency Management Agency and employees of the Office of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction. The ceremony was also attended by Captain Stephen Russell, Director, the National Emergency Management Agency.)

“It is essential for us to build a culture of preparedness in The Bahamas as life- threatening emergencies can happen and Professional Emergency First Responders may not be nearby. You may be able to save a life by taking simple actions immediately. You are the help until professional help arrives. That is the concept behind CERT Training,” Mr. Smith told the graduating class during the Closing and Presentation of Certificates Ceremony.

“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 care first. CERT offers an approach to volunteer training and organization that Professional First Responders can rely on during disaster/emergency situations, allowing them to focus on more complex tasks.

“I congratulate you for participating in the training, and encourage you to share the training and to utilize the training that has been imparted to you,” Permanent Secretary Smith added.

By: Matt Maura/Bahamas Information Services