Friday 25 September, 2020

CDEMA, C'bean Fire Chief call for improved search and rescues

(From Left) Chief Fire Officer and President of the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs, Errol Maynard speaks to Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ronald Jackson

(From Left) Chief Fire Officer and President of the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs, Errol Maynard speaks to Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ronald Jackson

The outgoing Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson has called for an enhancing of the region's capacity for search and rescue operations. 

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Jackson's comments came after the President of the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC), Errol Maynard signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with CDEMA via Zoom Meeting. The signing was to mark their resolve towards improving the Caribbean's emergency response.

The CDEMA Executive Director stated that integrating and engaging the fire services throughout the Caribbean needed to go beyond the CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit. He suggested search and rescue services needs to be further improved to suit the needs of CARICOM member states. This call comes after members of CARICOM came together to approach the search and rescue task when American tourists went missing off the coast of Barbados. This exercise saw a multi-country approach to search and rescue implemented.

"I think the area of search and rescue is also a very important component where we need to galvanize the capacities and capabilities of our fire services and to ensure that is plugged in quite appropriately to any regional architecture that is responding to the needs of member states," Jackson said. 

He also called for higher levels of certification for emergency search and rescue responders within the Caribbean given the region's vulnerability to natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes and poor infrastructural designs of buildings. 

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"The capacity building of our regional training centre and the idea of how we advance capacity building in search and rescue across the Caribbean on one standard on a shared platform is an emerging conversation." 

Chief Fire Officer of the Barbados Fire Service and president of CAFC, Errol Maynard highlighted that this partnership will increase the resilience of Caribbean territories by providing rescue services to Barbados and other CARICOM member states as well as training and assistance in emergencies such as tidal activities and collapsed structures.  

"Although the core of the document speaks to and focuses on the ability to provide certain rescue services to our neighbours and even domestically. It also provides assistance in other emergency situations and training, this important because as a region we are susceptible not only to the impact of hurricanes but also other hazards such as earthquakes, tidal activities, and collapsed structures. The Caribbean is a small region with small island states, singularly we are most vulnerable but collectively we can be and have proven to be a resilient territory and this has been demonstrated recently in the COVID-19 pandemic," Maynard said. 

Additionally, CDEMA Executive Director Jackson spoke to certification saying, "We are all a part of the entire process and we have been stuck in my opinion for far too long at the certification level for light level search and rescue. 

"I see no reason why we cannot have at least a medium middle-level rescue capabilities certification within the Caribbean and if necessary a higher rescue for those part of the region that is highly urbanized and investing in more dense multistory infrastructure in an earthquake context."

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