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Jun 16, 2015

EMTs Train in Belize City

About four hundred and fifty technicians are trained to provide emergency medical services throughout the country via BERT, the Belize Emergency Response Team. Their skills on how to manage an emergency situation can mean the difference between life and death.  Training and licensing of the Emergency Medical Technicians are currently ongoing in Belize City. Duane Moody stopped by and has a report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

EMTs, Emergency Medical Technicians…they are experts trained to respond quickly to emergency situations regarding medical issues, traumatic injuries and accident scenes. They are essential in providing pre-hospital care to persons who are ill or injured and would transport them via an ambulance to the nearest health facility for further medical attention. That essential service is provided twenty-four/seven all year round by the Belize Emergency Response Team, BERT.


Yvette Burks

Yvette Burks, Executive Director, BERT

“What we are doing today are our annual workshops to renew license to practice this level of medicine in the field because this is serious medicine because this is serious business. We didn’t have anybody even understanding just over a decade ago what an EMT was, what being a paramedic was in this country. And our focus has been on training, training, training. We need to have good ambulance, we need to have the supplies and equipment to care for the patients, but more importantly, we need to have people who have been properly trained and are equipped with the knowledge and skills to utilize those equipment and supplies and to understand how to assess a patient situation and to apply the needed assistance to get that patient the best possible outcome from that situation—whether it be medical or trauma. And that’s our focus.”


To date, BERT is operating approximately seven ambulances in the Belize and Cayo Districts, providing emergency services, accompaniment service to cruise ship, for sporting and others events, as well as transfer services. There are over four hundred persons in the country who have passed through trainings at BERT, but annually licenses as EMTs must be renewed. Since Monday, training and the licensing process began at the BERT Headquarters on Sunrise Avenue in Belize City.


Matthew Newell

Matthew Newell, EMS Evaluator

“It is important to make sure that all EMTs are always performing at a high level of performance—both cognitively—critically thinking and also performing the skills necessary to save lives. So it is important to every year they renew their license so that every year we can ensure that they are performing and that they are taking care of people at the very best. One of the things we are assessing in the background here is we are assessing the ability to do a patient assessment, which is to be able to identify any immediate life threats that they need to stabilized to safe a person’s life and then look for any injuries that can be managed or stabilized prior to transport.”


EMS Evaluator, Matthew Newell, says that best practices change globally every year and the training and licensing process allows for EMTs to get up to date with these new techniques.


Matthew Newell

“Not many people understand the importance of pre-hospital setting and what we can really do to improve patient outcomes and so we are refreshing all of the skills that allow these EMTs to be able to make sure that a patient is stabilized and kept alive before they get to the hospital.  Historically in Belize, you’ve gone to the hospital back of someone’s pickup truck and that can do more damage; that can cause more injury than would otherwise have to happen. We also have issues of airway management. If someone is not breathing well, you only have four to six minutes before the brain begins to die. These EMTs are trained to manage airways, to be able to support someone’s breathing, to be able to control bleeding; all these life-threatening things that otherwise aren’t going to happen in the back of a pickup truck by a Good Samaritan taking you to a hospital.”


BERT has been providing the essential training since its inception and provides the best pre-hospital care in the country.


Matthew Newell

“I think you should be pretty proud of these folks. They represent the very best providers that this country has to offer and I am very impressed when I come here to provide training opportunities to them because they are very motivated. They care so much about their fellow citizens and try and take very good care of them. So right now evaluations are going very well.”


Yvette Burks

“This thrills me, thrills me because it doesn’t matter where a medic works. If they work in the Belmopan ambulance, if they are working at the hospital somewhere; there are persons who practiced with us originally, but they are now working with a hospital in a different sector, but they are keeping up their license to practice. We are so proud of them. We thank them because we are contributing to our society by this.”


There are several persons practicing as EMTs in this country who have not renewed their licenses. This, Burks says, is not a good practice.  Duane Moody for News Five.

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