North Side graduates 17 team members
For Alex Johnson, the most valuable part of her training was a new-found ability to fight a fire. “You don’t just run and throw water on it,” she said after receiving her certificate as a member of the North Side Community Emergency Response Team.
Jackie Whittaker agreed that handling fire extinguishers in a practice situation gave her confidence that she could use one in an emergency. But even more valuable to her was the experience of giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation under the eyes of expert coaches. “Everybody did the exercises; we didn’t just sit and watch someone demonstrate.”
That kind of hands-on training, which started in May, led to the establishment of a district team recognised on Tuesday night by Hazard Management, the government body set up to deal with hurricanes and other disasters.
Omar Afflick, deputy director for preparedness, told the gathering at the Craddock Ebanks Civic Centre that North Side residents have been working together for some time on a district disaster plan, but the training had solidified the team.
Hazard Management Director McCleary Frederick saluted the 17 people who had been willing to put in the time to attend the 10 training sessions in order to better serve their community.
He thanked Mr. Afflick and Simon Boxall, public awareness and education officer, for leading the programme. “It’s their job,” he acknowledged, “but they do it quite well — and it’s all after hours.”
Mr. Frederick also noted the partnership with the Red Cross, which also had a disaster training programme. Putting the two together resulted in one programme well suited to local needs.
North Side has the additional advantage of structure provided by the district council, he pointed out. “If we are hit by any tropical cyclone this is one community we won’t have to worry about too much,” he concluded.
MLA Ezzard Miller said course participants had made the community better off and their own families better off in terms of dealing with potential disasters.
Assisted by Mr. Afflick and Red Cross Director Jondo Obi, Mr. Miller presented certificates to the graduates as former Speaker of the House applauded from the head table.
Mr. McCleary then presented the team’s official operating document to Teddie Ebanks, who has been active in district hurricane preparedness for several years. Mr. Ebanks, along with Archie Whittaker, helped facilitate the CERT programme.
The next presentation was of backpacks, formally known as two-person response kits, containing gear to be used in initial damage assessment and light search and rescue.
Mr. Ebanks gave the vote of thanks. “I guess the work starts now,” he said. “It’s good that we’ve made it official. We will continue to build on what we have learned.”
North Side is the third trained community emergency response team. The first was in Belford Estates and the second in North Sound Gardens.
North Side’s team is comprised of: Alex Johnson, Angela de Guzman, Archie Whittaker, Bill McLaughlin, Bruce Wright, Edroy Barnes, Felisimo Paul, Felisiana Ebanks, Henry Tomlinson, Jackie Whittaker, Jay Ebanks, L. Stanley Panton, Marco Whittaker, Tyra Scott, Linda Connolly, Patricia Miller and Teddie Ebanks.
For more information of the CERT training course, visit www.caymanprepared.gov.ky. Click on Training and then course/event overview. To inquire about training in your neighbourhood, phone Simon Boxall at 244-3145.