Cayman prepares for potential disaster

| 13/02/2009

(CNS): Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Health Care Workers, volunteers from the Red Cross, ADRA and the District Emergency Response Committees (DERCs) will be receiving specialist training next week to prepare them for potential major disasters. Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) are working together to improve local response capacity.

From 16 to 28 February around 90 people will receive training in Mass Casualty Management, Emergency Care and Treatment and also Incident Command Systems for the first time. District response committees (DERC – one in each district) have been established to build hazard management capacity to assist with response and relief where necessary, and according to the HMCI, these volunteers will go a long way in enhancing the districts’ resilience to major incidents.

“Some of the skills that will be taught in the training sessions will not be entirely new to some of the participants, but have already been put into practice in past disaster drills and exercises, such as the simulated plane crash on Shamrock Road,” said HMCI Deputy Director Omar Afflick.

“However, the country must always maintain a state of maximum readiness for a major incident and this training will seek to improve the country’s overall preparedness and response capacity." He explained that a Mass Casualty Incident is any event where the number of victims is large enough to disrupt the normal course of emergency health care services. 

“For example we could be looking at an emergency on a large scale following a situation such as an earthquake or a major fire, or perhaps something like a multi-car traffic accident. It is important to have pre-established procedures in place for rescue mobilization, incident site management and hospital reception to meet any specific challenges we face here in Cayman,” he added.

The HMCI said that Mass Casualty Management training is to ensure prompt and appropriate assistance to victims of disasters, minimizing injuries and ensuring that the most critical receive immediate medical attention. Some of the subject areas covered include: emergency medicine, the organization of advanced medical posts, psychosocial care, management of dead bodies, division of roles, and responsibilities and tasks of the first responders.

The Emergency Care and Treatment course covers the medical response component which will show how crews arriving at a location with a large number of casualties how to handle the victims in an appropriate way to reduce further injuries and prepare them for transport to the medical facility. The Incident Command Systems (ICS) course will cover the structure, functions and responsibilities of managing incident sites, responding to complex incidents and most importantly coordinating multiple agency response to an incident.

“I think this is one of the areas we can really improve on and we will benefit from this training with PAHO,” said Afflick. “It has been articulated that there needs to be improvement in some operational areas in the field so that during multiple agency responses, all responders are working in tandem and an agency (depending on the incident) will assume responsibility of Incident Commander. Indeed, I think this is a good opportunity to tighten up our approach and make Cayman even better able to deal with a really serious situation, when it occurs.”

The HMCI / PAHO training will take place in the conference room at the George Town Hospital. Personnel from RCIPS, CIFS, HSA, DoEH, CIAA, ADRA, Red Cross, Port Authority, Cadets, DAPAH, and HMCI/DERCS will be participating.

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