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Instructor Inspector Ian Yearwood presents during MCM training course

Published 18th October 2018, 2:15pm

First Responders Train in Incident Command Systems and Mass Casualty Management

Between October 15th and October 19th, approximately forty individuals in Grand Cayman are receiving training in Mass Casualty Management (MCM) and Incident Command Systems (ICS). The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) are sponsoring the courses.

“A Mass Casualty Incident is any event resulting in a number of victims large enough to disrupt the normal course of emergency health care services,” explained Hazard Management Director, Danielle Coleman. “This could be a situation such as a major fire, a multi-car traffic accident or a plane crash. Some of the subject areas covered in the training include emergency medicine, the organization of advanced medical posts, psycho-social care, the management of dead bodies, division of roles and responsibilities, and tasks of the first responders.”

The Cayman Islands is relatively small in terms of size and population so we face some unique challenges,” added the Hon. Tara Rivers, Minister Responsible for Financial Services and Home Affairs; “It is important that we have pre-established procedures in place for rescue mobilization, incident site management and hospital reception in the event that we face a big emergency situation, especially those involving multiple victims and a multi-agency response. If we don’t practice before we face a major incident it could easily overwhelm us. This course makes us better prepared to provide prompt and appropriate assistance to victims, it will help us to minimize injuries and prioritize the victims so the most critical receive the most immediate medical attention.”

Participants in the training include representatives from the Health Services Authority, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the Cayman Islands Fire Service, Department of Environmental Health, Port Authority, and volunteers from the Red Cross.

The Incident Command Systems (ICS) training course is a separate component and covers the structure, functions and responsibilities of managing incident sites and coordinating a multiple agency response to an incident. "During multiple agency responses, responders must work together efficiently and interact well with one another.” Danielle Coleman continued; “Depending on the type of incident, one particular agency assumes overall responsibility as the Incident Commander and they are then in charge of the response effort. Obviously this is different to more routine response situations where a single agency responds and follows their own agencies response protocols and procedures. A multi-agency response is much more complex as agencies need to work together in a unified manner, despite having their own hierarchy and their own way of doing things. If we don’t cooperate and work together, the response is going to be inefficient and chaotic.

The Mass Casualty Management and Incident Command Systems courses are officially conducted under the Pan American Health Organisation, but a number of civil servants from local 1st response agencies were trained by PAHO to facilitate this training. “The benefit of utilizing our own Instructors is far reaching,” explained the Hon. Tara Rivers; “It includes knowledge of how things are actually done here in the Cayman Islands with regards to a response to a major incident, and who the key stakeholders are. This internal knowledge significantly assists the effectiveness of our response to major emergencies”.

Local instructors Richard Barrow (RCIPS), Simon Boxall (HMCI), Ian Yearwood (RCIPS) and Andrew McLaughlin (CIAA) are conducting the Mass Casualty Management Course.