In keeping with its goal to build disaster resilient communities thoughout the country, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) held a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programme in the Pinewood Gardens area.
CERT was held on July 20 to 24, 2015 and invovled about 31 participants who were taught basic survival skills in the event of a disaster, natural or man-made.
Facilitators and trainers were from NEMA, the Public Hospitals Authority, Bahamas Red Cross, Pinewood Urban Renewal Division and the East Street South Police Station.
The training sessions were held at the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church and Cleveland Eneas Primary School. Participants were from the Pinewood Gardens, Pastel Gardens, South Beach, Faith Gardens subdivisions. Participants were presented with certificates and basic equipment at the conclusion of the training.
Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell said NEMA has been focusing mostly on the Family Islands to establish disaster committees; however that focus is now on New Providence and a “nice start” was Pinewood Gardens, a low-lying, flood prone area.
“CERT helps to equip people to better respond to emergencies in their communities,” he said. Captain Russell encouraged the trained group to be more aware of the challenges in their surroundings and alert each other in the event of an emergency.
He also advised them to find more innovative ways to communicate by using the Internet, via Apps and other programmes.
Caroline Turnquest, director general of the Bahamas Red Cross, was pleased that the CERT programme took place, a request long overdue fulfilled.
“Indeed, it was a very touching day for me. I was asking for such training for Pinewood and it has evolved into more than what I expected but much more could be done,” Ms. Turnquest said.
She was also happy to see the number of young people involved in the CERT programme, getting “the seed planted” in them at young ages.
Ms. Turnquest encouraged the young participants to join the Red Cross, or better yet, create a branch in the Pinewood area.
Police Supt. Virgiles Cenatus, coordinator of the Pinewood Urban Renewal Division commended the faciliators on the “excellent training” over the five-day period.
He told the residents, “This training is to benefit you and your respective communities. Our boundary extended beyond what we expected. The southern district of New Providence is a low-lying area and you might have to rescue some people.”
The traininers and facilitators were: Luke Bethel, operations/ training, NEMA; Wendell Rigby, Chief Store Keeper, NEMA; Gayle Outten-Moncur, Senior Assistant Secretary, NEMA; and Damario Barton, EMT/PHA.
The CERT programme educates particpants about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.
Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighbourhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help.
NEMA encourages CERT members to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their communities.