The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) collaborated with the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) through the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office to provide training in Hazardous Materials at NEMA HQ in St. Kitts-Nevis.
The exercise comprised two concurrent phases, a Train the Trainers exercise and Hazmat Training, having been launched on July 8th with a soft opening.
Administrative support was garnered from USAID/OFDA led by John Kimbrough, and his team: Cecil Shillingford, Disaster Risk Management Specialist and the Course Coordinator; Ann Jean Baptiste and Beryl Armbrister.
During the brief opening ceremony, brief remarks were given by several individuals, including National Disaster Coordinator, Carl Herbert, who gave brief remarks on behalf of the Ministry of National Security.
Six regional participants engaged in the “Train the Trainers” segment of the exercise, representing Dominica, St. Lucia and the Bahamas. Actual Trainers hailed from St. Kitts-Nevis and Barbados in the persons of Deputy Fire Chief (DFC) (Ag.) Abdias Samuel, who is currently Acting as Chief Fire Officer (CFO); Fire Sub Station Officer (FSSO) Timothy Martin and the Training Officer from the Barbados Fire Academy, Fernando McAllister.
FSSO Timothy Martin agrees that the most important reason for training in hazardous materials is to ensure the health and safety of persons, property and the environment.
“Each hazard comes with its own side effects and damage potential,” he said, “While the untrained may be confident in their abilities to handle chemicals and other hazardous resources, there is more to the discipline than simply preventing contact with skin.”
Martin noted that in the example of toxic gases, serious side effects may result if inhaled.
“Even if a worker is careful when handling a hazardous material or dangerous good, he/she could be constantly exposed to a toxic ingredient which can cause skin irritation, or worse, by leaking through materials/clothing.”
He says that the Training was geared towards Environment Health, Fire and Rescue and EMT practitioners as they represent the competent authority for disaster management in the event of a spill or other exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Trainees were plucked from Belize, Dominica, Haiti and St. Kitts-Nevis. Eight (8) individuals from St. Kitts participated in the training which concluded 14th July.
From left to right: Mrs/Ms Ann Jean Baptiste (USAID/OFDA), Mr. Carl Herbert (National Disaster Coordinator), Mr. Abdias Samuel (Deputy Fire Officer Ag.)
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)
19th July, 2017.