Director of the DEM, Kerry Hinds, speaking at the opening ceremony of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training workshop for members of the Oistins Bay Gardens Inc. (J. Rawlins-Bentham/BGIS)

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) measures and building resilience to disasters have been identified as high priority areas for Barbados.

To this end, the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) is spearheading capacity-building initiatives which focus on preparing and readying communities for response and improving and strengthening their resilience to disasters.

“It is important that we entrust the community with the necessary tools to help themselves and in turn assist the national system,” said Director of the DEM, Kerry Hinds.

She was speaking at the opening ceremony of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training workshop for members of the Oistins Bay Gardens Inc., at the DEM’s Warrens, St. Michael conference room this morning.  It is being conducted by the DEM in collaboration with the Organization of American States (OAS).

In expressing gratitude to the OAS and the US Federal Emergency Management Agency for sponsoring and partnering with Barbados’ National Emergency Management System in building capacity at the community and national level, Ms. Hinds said Barbados, like other Small Island Developing States, had reiterated its commitment to addressing those key areas by agreeing to integrate them into policies, plans, programmes and budgets at all levels.

She added that Barbados had made significant contributions to this process through its active participation in various consultations at the national, regional and global level, as well as gained considerable experience through the implementation of the Disaster Risk Reduction Agenda.

The Director pointed out that Barbados also had a vested interest in ensuring that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 to 2030, the Regional Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy and the national Comprehensive Disaster Management Policy and Country Work Programme 2019 to 2023, all built on the achievements, priorities and gaps of the past.

Sustainable Officer with the OAS Department of Sustainable Development, Charlene Solozano, explained that the CERT programme was designed to empower communities and build partnerships in the public and private sectors.

She added that the programme was also designed to reduce dependency on government in the event of a disaster by empowering communities and local businesses through expanded disaster preparedness and response capabilities.

Chairperson of the Oistins Bay Garden Inc., Kemar Harris, encouraged those undergoing training to share their knowledge with others. “Knowledge is power only when it is shared,” he said.

Meanwhile, Consultant with the DEM, and head of the District Emergency Organisations, Selwyn Brooks, encouraged participants to maximise the benefits of the training they would receive and to become members of the DEOs within their respective areas.            

The CERT training programme is designed to train volunteers in basic disaster response skills such as team organisation, disaster preparedness, fire safety, light search and rescue, first aid, water and sanitisation hygiene (WASH) and psycho-social training.

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