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.
Fifteen civil servants went through a five-week training programme which was held at the Fire Service Headquarters on Airport Road in Grand Cayman and coordinated by Senior Divisional Officer Duane Tibbetts. The participants are fully certified to the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group guidelines, a global network dedicated to urban search and rescue and field coordination. The organisation 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 European Union funded R3i programme, a regional risk reduction initiative that is also funding a vulnerability analysis of critical infrastructure in the Cayman Islands. The programme seeks to increase regional capacity in the British and Dutch overseas territories.
Lead Trainer Ron Mobley said that the only reason why the Dutch and UK Overseas Territories received the 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,” Mr. Mobley said. “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 crème de la crème, it is the best group we have seen so far. They came together for the training and by the end they were a family.”
Members of the Cayman Islands search and rescue team come from various government agencies including. 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 said, “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.”