In 2006 the Cayman Islands Red Cross embarked on a project funded by the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid Office that aimed to empower communities at its most grassroots level by giving them the tools that they needed to prepare for and respond to a disaster.
While the project ended in February 2007 the seeds that were planted the previous year took root, most notably in Bodden Town.
The Belford Estates Community Disaster Response Team is one of the most active community teams in Grand Cayman.
The CIRC has worked closely with the Belford Team and has provided them with training to enhance existing skills and introduce new skills which are critical to their community.
These skills include first aid/cpr/aed, hazard and resources mapping, family and community disaster response planning, and radio and communication skills, to name a few.
Based on the finding of a community vulnerability and capacity assessment, residents from the community were able to come together and address some of their concerns.
The Belford CDRT group has done everything from basic clean ups to petition Government officials for assistance in areas beyond their control.
It has also formulated a community disaster response plan, which has mapped the entire community and has given the members of the CDRT responsibilities over their neighbours.
The scope of its responsibility ranges from assisting the vulnerable in boarding up their homes prior to a hurricane to evacuating those most at risk to the nearest shelters.
‘CDRTs are not meant to replace a national system of response, they are meant to enhance the national system,’ explains the CIRC Disaster Manager Hemant Balgobin. ‘No one knows what will happen in a disaster, which roads will be blocked and what communities will be cut off. National response agencies such as the Red Cross, HMCI, health services, etc, still have roles to play in these communities, but the reality is that it may take hours or even days to clear the rubble and get there. CDRTs are able to provide an immediate response to their community’s immediate needs until such time as the other agencies can get there.’
The Belford CDRT group continues to be active in ensuring that their community is as ready as it can be not only for hurricane season, but for any disaster which may affect them.
Yet even in the midst of their own preparations, they have seen the benefit of their training and their work and they have recently joined the Red Cross in an effort to extend an offer to other communities in Bodden Town to help them form their own CDRT.
The Cayman Islands Red Cross will continue to make itself available to any and all communities who wish to develop or enhance their response mechanisms. Anyone interested in finding out more on how to get a CDRT started in their community should contact Hemant Balgobin, Disaster Manager, at 925-0681 or [email protected].