The Prospect Red Bay Community Emergency Response Team has distributed some 1,000 free home alarm systems to local residents over the past several weeks.
The group gave out the alarms following communitywide assessments it carried out to address “areas of vulnerability” within the community. The alarms were a part of a Community Mitigation Project supported by the Cayman Islands Red Cross, according to a press release from the Prospect Red Bay CERT group.
Residents of Prospect and Red Bay received the home alarms at a gathering at the Seafarers Hall and were given detailed instructions on installation and operation. Community members who were unable to collect the alarms were assisted by members of the CERT who delivered and installed the alarms in their homes.
“To date, the Prospect Red Bay CERT has distributed approximately 1,000 alarms to residents of our community,” says Prospect Red Bay CERT leader Sabrina Turner. “The drive was very well attended, and a great sense of gratitude was displayed by everyone who came to get them.”
Since 2011, the Red Cross and Hazard Management Cayman Islands have been training CERTs to prepare communities for, and assist in the response to, disasters. Established CERTs compete annually as part of the CERT Challenge to keep the teams engaged and ready.
One of the tools the Red Cross provides the CERTs is the Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment training, “which teaches CERTs to survey and observe the community and identify its strengths and weaknesses, hazards and vulnerabilities, and to use that information to prepare for disasters and emergencies,” the release stated.
As the winners of the CERT Challenge, the Prospect Red Bay CERT put forward a proposal for a Community Mitigation project based on their Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment findings. Over the course of several weeks, members of the Prospect Red Bay CERT conducted the assessments by walking through the neighborhoods, going house-to-house, and knocking on doors to speak with and survey residents.
“One of the challenges identified by the community was minor burglaries, which pose an especially great threat to the elderly and the vulnerable in the community. To battle this issue, the CERT members proposed the use of simple-to-use alarms for the most vulnerable homes within the community,” the release stated.
The Red Cross’s Disaster Management Program had specific funds that were made available for community mitigation projects to help empower communities to become more resilient and to address vulnerabilities.
“Over the years, we’ve trained CERTs in West Bay, Bodden Town, Windsor Park, North Side, North Sound Gardens and Prospect,” says Jondo Obi, director of the Cayman Islands Red Cross. “The CERTs are a crucial component to disaster preparedness, management and response, as they live and breathe their communities, and are essentially the first responders in the event of a disaster – especially ones which are immediate and the community has no advance warning [of].”
Ms. Obi added, “The CERTs work every day towards empowering people in the community to feel they have the skills to work together as a group and build a strong and resilient community – in day-to-day life and in times of crisis.”
Home alarms are still available for Prospect and Red Bay residents who have yet to receive them, and can be collected during the Prospect Red Bay town meeting, held every first Monday of the month at Seafarers Hall at 7 p.m.