Driving training for police, firemen

Police and fire officers hope investment in emergency driver training will translate into safer roads across the Cayman Islands.

A class of seven officers from the police and fire departments earned internationally recognized diplomas Friday from Emergency Response Driver Training Ltd., a U.K.-based training service accredited by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Managing Director Stephen Milton said the eight-day course will improve officer response times in high-speed scenarios.

Seven police and fire officers graduated from emergency response driver training Friday. From left are graduates and instructors, including RCIPS officers Roje Williams, Donovan Chung and Alain Belanger, Emergency Response Driver Training staff Mike Addison and Stephen Milton, and fire service officers Henry Ebanks, Richard McLaughlin, Ernest Barnes and Kirk Watson. – PHOTO: ALVARO SEREY

“The long-term vision with the benefits of the training is to change attitudes, behavior, to improve road safety for quality assurance,” Mr. Milton said at the Central Fire Station in George Town.

“In three years’ time, we will be back to assess them. It’s not a course that you can just do and forget. You’ve got to maintain your skills. It’s all about continuous professional development.”

Officers who completed the course are now qualified to train additional staff in basic and advanced emergency driving techniques.

Cayman Brac station officer Kirk Watson said he hopes the training will help the fire service avoid a repeat of January’s rollover crash that put a fire truck out of commission at Charles Kirkconnell International Airport.

“Stability management and anti-rollover training was very beneficial to the fire service,” Mr. Watson said.

“Learning these new skills, I’m well equipped now to go back and teach the guys. When you’re cornering, you’ve got to position the vehicle in a certain position to make sure you are negotiating the corner properly and safely.”

Mr. Watson was one of two fire service department officers who completed the course. Overall, the course included four fire service officers and three police officers.

Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Superintendent Robert Graham said the accreditation complements other training programs.

“The RCIPS at the moment is going through a number of various training courses. It’s all about professionalizing our officers with continual development taking place. Today we are concluding a separate course, and there are other courses going on.” Mr. Graham said.

Traffic officers and officers who regularly drive emergency vehicles will be given priority for higher-level training.

Other officers will receive basic training.

Long term, Mr. Milton said, he hopes the safety skills will trickle down to the community and result in training opportunities for the general public.

He cited a United Nations statistic that 1.3 million people die on roads worldwide a year.

“There’s quite a mix of driving in the Cayman Islands. You’ve got some adopted U.K.-type traffic signs and road markings. You’ve adopted some American styles of driving. Now you’ve got in the mix lots of hired cars, lots of tourists. It’s quite a risk-critical environment if you don’t go about your business in a safe manner,” Mr. Milton said.

The training course for all seven officers cost $4,100. Mr. Milton said ambulance drivers were also invited to attend the course but declined.

Emergency Response Driver Training has worked with emergency services in 43 countries, including recent courses in Gibraltar, Singapore and Turks and Caicos.

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