The Cayman Islands now has a certified urban search and rescue team. The team will be deployed in variety of circumstances including post impact situations such as a damaging earthquake, fire or following a hurricane where buildings have been damaged or collapsed. The team has also been provided with an equipment package to enable them to effectively carry out their duties.
15 Civil Servants went through a rigorous five-week training programme, which was held at the Fire Service Headquarters on Airport Road and coordinated by Senior Divisional Officer, Duane Tibbetts. Â The participants are now fully certified to the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) guidelines, a global network dedicated to urban search and rescue and field coordination, and which sets international standards and establishes the methodology for response coordination in the aftermath of earthquakes and collapsed structure disasters. The training course was included as an output of the EU funded R3i program, a regional risk reduction initiative which is also funding a vulnerability analysis of critical infrastructure in the Cayman Islands and which seeks to increase regional capacity in the British and Dutch overseas territories.
Lead Trainer Ron Mobley explained that the only reason why the Dutch and UK Overseas Territories got the Urban Search and rescue training is because McCleary Frederick, Director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands saw the need and pushed for it. “The whole region has benefitted from Mr. Frederick’s vision and foresight”, explained Mobley, “We have already completed the training in Aruba, TCI and Curacao and both Assistant Instructor Dwayne Straun and I are in agreement that this team in the Cayman Islands is the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me, it is the best group we have seen so far. They came together for the training and by the end they were a family.
The 15 members of the Urban Search and Rescue team come from a variety of Government Agencies including, Police, Fire, Customs, EMT, Cadets and Prisons and the variety of knowledge and experience adds to the capacity of the group. Both Instructors had high praise for Tiffany Ebanks, the sole woman who went through the training and there was agreement from team members that she clearly demonstrated the motto she frequently mentioned during the course; “Go hard or go home!”
During the graduation ceremony Mr. Frederick noted that, “The Cayman Islands is now a little better situated when it comes to our response capacity, not just for hurricanes, but for other events such as earthquakes where we could be facing the possibility of collapsed buildings. The team will activate through CIFS, or alternatively during certain incidents we may also choose to deploy the team through the Search and Rescue Sub Committee of the National Emergency Operations Centre.”
The Urban Search and Rescue training programme was comprised of Emergency Medical Responder, Hazard Management Awareness, Incident Command Systems, Lifting and Shoring Loads, Search Techniques and Considerations, Rescue Levels I and II, Rope Rescue Level I and II, Mass Casualty Management, First Aid and CPR, Emergency Medical Responder and Stress Management in Disasters. The Leader of the Cayman Islands Search and Rescue Team is Mr. Whitney Tatum, a Fire Officer based in Cayman Brac and Deputy Leader is Adrian Clarke from the RCIPS.