ODPEM wants Jamaica to be Regional Centre for Training


Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Mr. Ronald Jackson, has said that the vision still remains for Jamaica to become the regional centre for search and rescue training in the Caribbean.
Speaking at the opening of a one-week light level search and rescue workshop at the Portmore Fire Station in Waterford, St. Catherine, today (May 10), Mr. Jackson highlighted the need to improve and increase the capacity for search and rescue training within the local communities and by extension the region.
“It’s just the start, but eventually we would like to see us get to the certification level in the medium to heavy rescue capabilities, with the requisite resources, so that when you’re deployed, you can effectively respond,” he told the prospective trainees.

Mayor of Portmore, Keith Hinds (second left), in discussion with Firefighter and Rescue Specialist from Los Angeles, in the United States, Leopoldo Ibarra (right), following the launch of a light level search and rescue workshop at the Portmore Fire Station in Waterford, St. Catherine, today (May 10). Others (from left) are: Search and Rescue Instructor from Barbados, Carlos Bishop; Acting Station Officer, Barbados Fire and Rescue Service, Gordon Boxill and Firefighter and Rescue Specialist from Los Angeles, Ed Hernandez.

Mr. Jackson noted that although search and rescue in the Caribbean started many years ago and has made significant strides, there is still a far way to go.
He said the vision is to ensure that the capacity within the country’s fire services, medical personnel, volunteer corps and communities are in place to be able to effectively “put in that first line of response after events that may require those skill sets.”
The Director General said that the experiences of countries, such as Haiti and Chile, have given Jamaica a “teachable moment” to address and attack some of its capacity issues that are necessary to ensure that its citizens and rescue personnel are equipped and prepared for such disasters.
“I hope that out of this training we’ll build the momentum to ensure that our search and rescue capacity is in place for these kinds of eventualities,” he said.

United States Agency for International Development/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/ODFA) Representative, Sean Osner (right), in dialogue with Portmore Mayor, Keith Hinds, at the opening ceremony for a light level search and rescue workshop at the Portmore Fire Station in Waterford, St. Catherine, today (May 10).

Disaster Risk Management Specialist, United States Agency for International Development/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/ODFA), Ms. Audrey Mullings, said the organisation was pleased to assist in ODPEM’s goal of working to make Jamaica disaster resilient.
“This is one of the important elements in reaching out, not only to the people who will need and require the skills to provide support and assistance after situations like an earthquake and building collapse, but also part of the vulnerability reduction of the general population,” she said.
Miss Mullings added that through this intervention, she hopes that a programme of sustainability would be developed.

Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson (right), in discussion with United States Agency for International Development/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/ODFA) Representative, Sean Osner, following the launch of a light level search and rescue workshop at the Portmore Fire Station in Waterford, St. Catherine, today (May 10).

“What we hope for Jamaica is that we will carry forward, after we’ve had the training, the development of a framework, a plan and a comprehensive strategy and approach, which will be integrated in the western Caribbean programme. And ultimately, what we will see is that the standards which we have attained are in keeping with that which we have internationally,” she said.
Mayor of Portmore, Keith Hinds said he welcomed the programme, noting that it was a timely intervention and one that would be of great benefit to the people of the Municipality.
The one-week training programme for members of the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the Jamaica Constabulary Force is being conducted by USAID/ODFA, in partnership with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.
Participants will receive training in the search and rescue of patients found on the surface of collapsed structures. They will also be prepared in skills such as fire suppression, pre-hospital medical care, search, rescue and protection services.
Several trainers from Los Angeles in the United States and several parts of the Caribbean have arrived in Jamaica to take part in the programme.

JIS Social