Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite has called for a universal training protocol for regional emergency services personnel, fashioned upon the Regional Security System (RSS), and designed to standardize training methods across the Caribbean.
Speaking during the launch of the Caribbean Association of Fire Fighters (CAFF) eighth biennial conference this morning at the General Post Office, Cheapside, St Michael, Brathwaite said such an approach would facilitate the movement of officials across jurisdictions to assist during emergencies.
The attorney general also questioned the logic of individual territories establishing their own respective training facilities, suggesting that a regional approach was more sensible.
“I want to suggest that we embrace more of what I call the RSS model where they try to have as many trained personnel across Barbados and the OECS [Organization of Eastern Caribbean States] so that when training is required they extract personnel from wherever they are and let them go into the jurisdictions,” Brathwaite, who is also the Minister of Home Affairs, explained.
“What that does is that it ensures an acceptable minimum international standard. That way it does not matter what language you speak if you are trained to an acceptable minimum international standard, so that you are then able to work with your colleague from wherever he comes from.”
Brathwaite said this was especially important considering that the region was expected to be affected by more natural disasters.
He pointed to the situation in Dominica where emergency personnel from across the Caribbean were called into action following the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Erika.
“I am being told that as a region we can expect more environmental challenges such as more severe hurricanes, which means we may have to respond more frequently to assist our neighbours,” Brathwaite noted.
Meanwhile, acting Chief Fire Officer Errol Maynard stressed the need to place greater attention on prevention. In his remarks at the opening, Maynard emphasized the importance of training, but called on fire and rescue officials to rearrange their priorities and place prevention at the top of their agendas.
“While training is paramount and cannot be substituted, it is not enough. Our training must be complemented with appropriate policies, regulations and required resources. Our planning must be inclusive of all the players, those locally, regionally and internationally.
“A modern and evolving fire and rescue service can no longer have suppression and response as its primary focus. Don’t be mistaken, these two areas are important and cannot be neglected, but we must focus on preventative measures. We need to prevent the next fire, we need to be able to prevent the next building collapse, we need to prevent the need to rescue the next man or the next woman,” Maynard stressed.
The week-long conference is being held under the theme, Redefining the Caribbean Fire Service – A New Perspective, and involves fire officers from Dominica, Guyana, Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.