The program is called SERT (Student Emergency Response Teams) and is being introduced in a five-day training program at NEMA headquarters starting today, 12th September.
According to Deputy National Disaster Coordinator Claricia Langley-Stevens, the programme to increase response capacity and coordination of young persons during an emergency event or disaster situation.
Langley-Stevens explained, “SERT is a training program that prepares students to help themselves, their families and schools in collaboration with First Responders and Volunteers.”
The deputy pointed out that SERT must not be confused with an adult program CERTS (Community Emergency Response Teams), which positions District Management Volunteers, as community emergency responders.
NEMA is tasked with developing the Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) and the new SERT is part of that strategy. To implement SERT, NEMA has established a partnership, said Langley-Stevens, with the Ministry of Education.
The five days of training for the Student Emergency Response Teams (SERT) will take place over a two-week period on both islands at the same time. Sessions will include simulation exercises.
According to NEMA information, the facilitators will come from Fire and Rescue, the Ministry of Education, NEMA, the St. Kitts and Nevis Red Cross Society, the Police and the Government’s Counselling Department.
Langley-Stevens said, “We view this partnership as a very important contribution and investment in the development and welfare of our nation’s youth.”
The SERTs program is part of an over-arching Disaster Mitigation Project funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), via the local Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Office.
Other components of the project include a previously held workshop on Occupational Safety and Health; the development of a Hazard Survival Guide and Training in First Aid and CPR for teachers, district volunteers and members of the disabled community.
Under the direction of school and local emergency responders, SERTs will help to provide critical support by giving immediate assistance to victims and assist with evacuation at schools.
Although they are not expected to take the lead in any disaster situation, SERTs will be engaged in schools to assist others until trained emergency personnel or volunteers arrive on the scene.