Overseas troops have begun arriving here, one week before the start of Exercise Tradewinds 2017.
Soldiers from France and Regional Security System (RSS) member countries landed at the Grantley Adams International Airport yesterday, and were greeted by Logistics Lead Planner, Lieutenant (Coast Guard) Wesley Beckles and other members of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF).
The six-member French Explosive Ordinance Device (EOD) team, led by Lieutenant Colonel Brice, arrived on board a CASA CN-285 military aircraft. Brice told Barbados TODAY they will provide training and evaluation during the Barbados and Trinidad leg of this year’s exercise.
The annual security and emergency management exercise is being co-hosted by Barbados and Trinidad, with Barbados hosting the first leg from June 6-12. Participants will engage in pre-exercise training at the RSS headquarters at Paragon base, Christ Church ahead of the start of the operation.
New recruit Kyle Hutson, who was among the BDF members who met the incoming troops at the airport, told Barbados TODAY he is looking forward to the upcoming event. Hutson, who passed out in March, noted that training has been rigorous but it was a new learning experience.
“It teaches you to appreciate life more and also shows you the level of security we’d need to get to, if needed,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Tradewinds Secretariat has stepped up its public outreach programmes in the lead up to the exercise.
Over the weekend, they hosted a Volunteer to make a difference expo at Queen’s Park, The City, to give volunteers an opportunity to find out what to expect in the Barbados leg of the event.
Members of the BDF and the Barbados Fire Service were on hand to demonstrate various rescue techniques and disaster responses. They also involved the volunteers in demonstrations of – the application of mock injuries for the purpose of training emergency response teams and other medical and military personnel.
Station Officer at the Barbados Fire Service, Henderson Patrick, highlighted the importance of engaging with the public to explain their roles and address any concerns they may have about volunteering their services.
“One thing we have always stressed is we want to maintain the safety of those persons who volunteer. We don’t want to allow them to feel as though they’re putting their lives in jeopardy at any point in time. So even though the wounds may look realistic, at least they will get an opportunity to see that it really does not hurt, and that the persons who do this job, they do a fantastic job in making these injuries look real.
“It also serves as a training tool for the first responders because when you turn up to an event…and you see some person with an eviscerated stomach, it will allow those persons to go through their normal protocol in treating an injury of that nature,” Patrick said.
Volunteer Yasmin Padmore told Barbados TODAY she welcomed the expo, and was excited to be part of Exercise Tradewinds.
“It gives me an opportunity to understand what goes into protecting Barbados as it relates to an external entity coming in, when we have natural disasters, when we have terrorist attacks, those types of things,” Padmore said.
Representatives from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and Department of Emergency Management were also present to explain the role of emergency response agencies during a disaster.
Communications and education specialist at CDEMA, Clive Murray, explained that Exercise Tradewinds will be an opportunity to test its regional protocols and procedures to assess the strengths and weaknesses.
“Our role in Exercise Tradewinds is to facilitate the activation of our regional response mechanism, where we will test our regional coordination plan and procedures with regards to responding to any disaster event that may affect our participating states. So what we will do, we will activate our regional coordination centre which is based here in Barbados, and possibly our sub-regional coordination centre which is based in Trinidad and Tobago, which is one of our four sub-regional focal points,” Murray said.
Organizers also hosted an orientation session for volunteers on Saturday. So far, approximately 700 people have signed up to participate.