Government of Saint Lucia – The Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP) and The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) facilitated a training program entitled CERT.
CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. Program Development Officer, Kenisha Jeffrey says the program was aimed at strengthening community resilience.
“We wanted to build teams within the various communities, where these individuals should in case, if an event occurs before the professionals get there, these individuals are very knowledgeable on all the different aspects on how to do damage assessments in the homes, people’s needs as well as rescue evacuation, we wanted a team, very equipped and trained to respond before the professionals arrive.”
Participants of the training exercises included members of the disaster district communities, staff of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, The Ministry of Education, The Ministry of Health and organisations such as RISE.
Jeffrey notes the exercise taught participants how to assess and bandage wounds and the proper use of fire extinguishers.
“They got training on scenario, so they were given a scenario, and they had to come up with the various solutions. It got them to think critically as well as during a disaster.
They also had first aid training which is important and one of the most important trainings as indicated by most of the participants, they taught them map reading.
Because you know during a disaster you may not be able to identify areas because of the number of damages. It may not look familiar, so they taught them how to do compass and map reading “
Additionally, trainees received instruction on search and rescue and how to carry patients/victims on a stretcher. Brigadier General Retired, Earl Arthurs was the main facilitator of the CERT program.
“You are teaching them to be first responders, but they are not going to be expert first responders because we have the fire and the police and all these people like the ambulance who are first responders for real.
But we know that in the community these people are going to be the first ones to meet the casualty, go and search for people. Do different things before the authorities show.
And sometimes during a big disaster the authorities will not show up, because the roads are blocked, and they have bigger things to deal with downtown and so the community need to look after itself.”
CERT training was completed in late 2022.