Community emergency team sought for Prospect

Residents of the Prospect community may soon have their own Certified Emergency Response Team to help prepare for and respond to potential disasters in their neighborhood. 

Cayman Islands Hazard Management is inviting Prospect residents to attend a meeting Tuesday evening, when they can learn about the CERT program and sign up for free CPR, first aid, fire safety and other safety training. 

The CERT program is designed to strengthen community resilience through active community disaster risk management. The program teaches community teams how to prepare for and respond to a disaster and how to conduct risk assessments. 

“The government can’t do everything, so in a disaster we really need residents to sort of support themselves for three days to a week without government intervention,” Cayman Islands Hazard Management spokesman Simon Boxall said. 

He noted that after Hurricane Ivan, the government was initially focused on getting basic functions up and running in the “core” of the island, while eastern districts were “kind of left on their own.” 

“The cavalry didn’t really come rushing in, and we want people to be … self-sufficient and prepare,” Mr. Boxall said. 

He said “early indication suggests that there is support” for a Prospect team. 

There are currently CERTs in North Side, North Sound Gardens, West Bay, Belford Estates and Windsor Park. The teams are trained by Hazard Management Cayman Islands and the Cayman Islands Red Cross. 

CERT members participate in a basic training course, which takes about two days, according to Mr. Boxall, and receive a certificate at the end of their training. 

As well as CPR and first aid training, CERT members are also given training in using AEDs; carrying out light search and rescue operations; fire safety and suppression; stress management and psychosocial support; and shelter management. 

Part of the training course teaches CERT participants how to identify hazards and vulnerabilities in their community. It also teaches them to identify available resources, such as individuals with special skills, and vehicles or buildings that might be useful in a disaster. Participants also learn how to assess levels of damage to report the information to the National Emergency Operation Centre. 

Mr. Boxall says this helps government “know and be aware of where they need to prioritize relief efforts.” 

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Prospect Primary School Hall.* Free snacks and refreshments will be provided. For more information, call Mr. Boxall at 526-2027.

* Note: This story has been amended to reflect a change of location for the meeting.