Whenever a disaster strikes, first responders are the key actors providing critical assistance to those affected. However, these actors often work within their own domains and borders, with a need for additional means to coordinate and cooperate with their work outside of these domains and communicate and share across borders what they learn from their experiences.
To investigate this problem, an international team of researchers funded by the University of Leicester travelled to Barbados to conduct stakeholder interviews with the overall aim of reducing avoidable disaster deaths. The project, entitled, ‘Exploring the Feasibility and Value of a Regional Network for First Responders (RN4FR) to Reduce Avoidable Disaster Deaths in the Caribbean Region’ is led by Dr. Nibedita S. Ray-Bennett, Associate Professor in Risk Management and Founding President of the Avoidable Deaths Network (ADN) based at the University of Leicester’s School of Business.
Over the course of two days she, accompanied by Steve Glovinsky (ADN’s Advisor and Founder of PeerConnect), Alexander Skinner (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)/ ADN), Krishna Clarke (Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)/ ADN – Barbados) and Keisha Linton (Regional Security System), met with key stakeholders to develop a roadmap for the next stage of the network.
Their trip commenced by bringing together a broad range of first responders in a group Hybrid Stakeholder’s Meeting at the Regional Security System (RSS) Airwing at Paragon Base, Christ Church. Among others, attendees included Graham Archer and Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Forde of RSS, Errol Maynard of the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs and Barbados Fire Service, Paul Saunders of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr. David Byer OBE and Mark Boyce of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Emergency Ambulance Service, Major Clemens Buter of the Pan American Health Organisation, Peterson Yearwood and Dr. Rochelle Hunte of the Barbados Red Cross Society, Rasheed Pinder of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Frank Caswell of the World Food Programme and Dr. Evangeline Inniss-Springer (University of West Indies Disaster Risk Reduction Centre.
After gathering information collectively, in-depth, in-person meetings were held with RSS, CAFC/Barbados Fire Service, Caribbean Development Bank, and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Emergency Ambulance Service, as well as the British High Commission Barbados and the UN Development Programme.
At CDEMA, the discussion focused on Regional Response Mechanism and possibilities for collaborating at the regional training centre.
The opportunity for hosting a communicative space in which first responders from across the region could share and seek knowledge from their peers was also explored.
Graham Archer, the Deputy Executive Director of the RSS who opened the Hybrid Stakeholder’s Meeting said: “One life lost in a disaster is a lot to lose. One life lost is a personal loss in the small island countries such as Barbados.
The importance of evidence-based research cannot be underestimated. It can give the opportunity to improve our practice. We do not have enough funds to do evidence-based research as we would like. As such, I look forward to reading the roadmap that will come out as part of this evidence-based research project.
Dr. Nibedita Ray-Bennett noted: “By consulting with the first responders I have begun to understand the challenges that they experience whilst responding to disasters or in the aftermath. I have also learnt that there is a need for communicative space for the first responders (CS4FR)- one that would enable emergency services, defence agencies, humanitarian organisations,
affected communities and critical support organisations to come together to identify their challenges as well as co-create solutions, build their capacities through knowledge exchange and training, exchange assets across the Caribbean countries during disasters – among other things.
ADN’s collaborators and I would like to work with key stakeholders including the CDEMA, University of West Indies, RSS, Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs and Barbados Fire Service – among others – to realise CS4FR with the aim to reduce avoidable disaster deaths and the numberof people affected by disasters.” (PR)