Published 25th November 2015, 9:13am
The Belford Estates Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) took home the trophy in the first annual ‘CERT Challenge’ which was hotly contested by various CERT teams on Saturday, November 21st. The event was held at the Red Cross building on Huldah Avenue and was hosted by Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) and the C.I. Red Cross.
“The Challenge started at 9 am,” explained HMCI Deputy Director, Omar Afflick, “Teams went head to head in a number of skills and disciplines such as Fire Safety and Suppression, CPR and First Aid, Damage Assessment and Radio Communications. All of the teams performed well and when we tallied up the points there were only a few points separating the top four.”
“In the end West Bay CERT came in fourth, North Sound Gardens third and the team from the Brac scooped up second place.” Omar Afflick added, “This was the first time we held the CERT Challenge and it was great success. It definitely provided the participants with a fun and interesting way to maintain the skills they learned during their initial CERT training. We have not had a direct impact from a hurricane over the past few years, so while the teams have responded to events like fires etc. in their communities, they really haven’t had many opportunities to come together to practice the skills they acquired during their training. This is a very useful way of keeping the groups involved as well.”
Fire Officers John Christian and Joseph Thompson set up a mock collapsed building to simulate Search and Rescue scenarios and they also set controlled fires that had to be extinguished by the team members using extinguishers provided free of charge by local company Fire Extinguisher Pros.
For the First Aid and CPR section, numerous Red Cross volunteers were enlisted to be the victims in need of medical treatment and their injuries were made all the more realistic by the application of life like wounds created by a film industry make-up artist.
The CERT Challenge simulated a disaster event that required utilizing the skills learned in all the different units in the CERT training programme. At these Challenge Stations Marshals were on hand supervising and scoring the teams as they carried out various tasks. The Belford Estates CERT scored the highest total from the points earned at each Challenge Station and was declared the winner.
Five CERTS have been established across Grand Cayman over the past six years and these teams have increased the resilience of the Cayman Islands at the community level. Currently there are two more teams in development, with a training program underway at John Gray high School for a Campus CERT and another team half way through CERT training in Prospect. Omar Afflick encouraged members of the public to join the CERT teams when a team is being established in their community, “We plan to hold the CERT Challenge exercise on an annual basis. In addition to helping the CERT members maintain the skills and knowledge they acquired during CERT training, the exercise also fosters inter-CERTs interaction and coordination.”
This year the Challenge was opened by Deputy Chief Officer in Ministry of Home Affairs, Wesley Howell.