Persons who have a desire to serve their country and be of assistance during an emergency or disaster are being encouraged to volunteer to be a part of the Barbados Defence Force’s Field Medical Facility (BDF FMF).
Colonel (retired) Florence Gittens, made this appeal on day two of Exercise Nightingale 2020, currently underway at the BDF’s Paragon Base.
She explained that the Facility had achieved its Type 1 accreditation from the Pan American Health Organization in September 2019 enabling it to function as a polyclinic-type setting providing outpatient care, stabilisation and referral of major trauma cases.
However, it is presently seeking accreditation as a Type 2 facility to allow it to provide general hospital care, inclusive of surgeries, during a disaster. “We are looking for more staff…. We need three or four people for each job,” she explained.
Colonel Gittens said that volunteers would be welcomed from all job categories, including doctors, pediatricians, nurses, nursing assistants, nursing auxiliaries, anthesis, logistical personnel such as electricians, plumbers and water purification experts.
Interested persons 17 years or over, may fill out an application form to indicate their interest by visiting the BDF website and clicking on the Field Medical Facility’s page.
Persons will also be required to undergo a medical assessment and provide certification of their qualifications for their respective fields. In addition, doctors and nurses will need to produce updated registration certificates.
All persons must also produce their national identification card, passport, drivers’ licence, and a recent Police Certificate of Character. “Once we have all of that, the persons will be invited to training sessions,” Colonel Gittens noted.
She explained that training was conducted on the last weekend of every month except for the months of November and December.
“We train either Saturday or Sunday. We repeat the training done on Saturday on Sunday, so you can come either day, except when we are going to have an exercise such as this then it will be three or four days,” she said.
Colonel Gittens encouraged more people to get involved, noting it was a national duty which provides medical assistance to persons post disaster or during an epidemic or pandemic.
She added: “When we go out, you build camaraderie in the team. You get to meet new people. They would be there for you as you are there for them. It is a great experience that you feel wanted as part of a team.”
She however warned it was difficult work. “It is not something you will sit and smile and write a few pages of notes. We have to put up tents, we have to live in not the most salubrious conditions. We have to live in tents. We have to live with using chemical toilets,” she pointed out.