Disaster exercise tests readiness

“Code Red, emergency responder Millicent Webster where is your location?” cackled the hand radio held by Errington Webster. 

A magnitude 6.9 earthquake has just hit the island of Jamaica leaving thousands dead and hundreds missing. 

A tsunami with a high probability of impacting and wiping out the Cayman Islands is on the way. 

The simulated active-emergency responders incident is reported immediately and Belford Community Emergency Response Team spring into action during last week’s full-scale search and rescue exercise in Belford Estates in Bodden Town.  

Members of the Cayman Islands Royal Police and Fire Services provided support while taking notes, assisting when possible the situation while overseeing the operations firsthand of a constant barrage of demanding deadlines and duties and ever-changing conditions – all of which were designed to help responders perform under pressure. 

“Responder, you are not at your location!, Where are you, over and out,” stressed team captain Errington Webster. “I heard someone calling for help, went to see, being attacked by a dog,” responds team member Millicent Webster, “Do you know your location, can you get to the location, okay, over and out.” 

The one-night exercise tested the community’s readiness and actual response to a simulated disaster. Nothing compared to that of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, which left some injured and hundreds homeless.  

During the first phase of the exercise, team members were made aware of disaster occurrences and of the probability of impact from a tsunami as Cayman was placed under a tsunami watch. A head count of the current residents was conducted and also communicated during this phase. 

After the impact, and before the all clear, members were briefed about the impact and the severity of the impact after the initial assessment team conducted a scene assessment. A revised head count was also conducted during this phase where it was determined that six residents were unaccounted for.  

Phase three indicated the teams gathered at the estate’s assembly point and was briefed by Incident Commander Eric Webster who also initiated search and rescue efforts. 

The search and stretcher crews were able to identify and recover all six victims within a 45 minute time span. The victims were transported to the collection point and sorted based on the priority of their injuries during the first triage stage.  

Team captain Errington Webster reminded observers and responders that these types of simulation exercises are important as it helps to keep members aware of possible updates to rescue techniques, which would help to keep in line with the vision statement, which is “to help to limit the number of victims due to any emergency affecting our community and to ensure that our residents or prepare for and after a disaster”. 

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Team captain Errington Webster, left, reminded observers, police and responders that these types of simulation exercises are important as it helps to keep the team members aware of possible updates to rescue techniques. – Photos: Jewel Levy

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Victims were transported to the collection point and sorted based on the priority of their injuries during the first triage stage.

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Members of the Belford Emergency Response Team are seen during the exercise in Bodden Town.
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1 COMMENT

  1. Kudos to the Belford Community Emergency Response Team for taking the time to develop the skills required in an emergency.

    As a sidebar, in the event a tsunami headed here, simply get off shore at least one mile or more into deep water.

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