Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, October 12th, 2023 – As the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) embarks on strengthening its Regional Response Mechanism (RRM), the 2023 Regional Search and Rescue Training Programme (RSART) was hosted in Trinidad and Tobago from October 2nd-6th. The week-long training brought together 36 participants from the island’s disciplined forces, in partnership with the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs, with technical support from World Hope International.
Speaking at the closing ceremony for the training, Programme Manager, Preparedness and Response at CDEMA, Mandela Christian, said that the agency had undertaken a series of Search and Rescue programmes since 2001. He added that in 2016, a concept paper was presented to the CDEMA Technical Advisory Committee in 2016, to outline the steps to drive the programme forward.
“It was recognised that were was a need for consolidation and enhancement in order to create a more wholesome approach to the search and rescue programme in the region, in particular, noting that the Caribbean is prone to natural and man-made hazards with the potential to create situations where persons can be at risk, increasing the need for search and rescue interventions,” Christian explained.
In 2022, the first in-person training was held in Barbados for 24 participants from the Eastern and Central CDEMA Sub-regions, orienting them to the United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) standards for Urban Search and Rescue. This year’s training programme is a continuation of Phase One of Building a Next Level Regional Response Mechanism, through immediate actions to form Regional Search and Rescue Teams in the Sub-regional Focal Points of Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Nataki Atiba-Dilchan challenged the graduates to commit to being ever vigilant, prepared, and ready to serve using their newly acquired skills. “As a Caribbean nation, we are mindful of the implications of disasters. The Government recognises that during large scale disasters, regional corporation and assistance are critical. As a trained RSART responder, you can expect to be rapidly deployed to our Caribbean neighbours…see yourself as a part of one interconnected Caribbean region.”
President of the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs, Errol Maynard said he was impressed by the participants’ commitment to the training, as the region now has a stronger force in search and rescue. “By your acceptance to be trained not only for your country but for the region, is saying that you understand what is happening in our region. As we battle with the changing environment and unpredictable climatic activities, our only hope is to be prepared to manage the next impact.” Maynard said.
The 2023 RSART Programme funded by Global Affairs Canada and USAID BHA, also saw 12 instructors from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda training alongside World Hope International to develop their capacity as future Regional Search and Rescue Specialists to conduct trainings in country. Participants remarked that the programme was essential to enhancing their personal and professional lives, while sparking a further interest to represent the region in search and rescue.
Source: CDEMA, 2023