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Oct 30, 2019

A Training to Improve the Role of First Responders during Emergencies

A health disaster management training for first responders is taking place in Belize City. It is being facilitated by the Pan American Health Organization with funding from the European Union’s Health Sector Reform Programme that seeks to smarten health facilities. Global Affairs Canada also co-financed the programme to standardize the role of first responders in times of emergency. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Since Monday, the Pan American Health Organization has been facilitating training on emergency care and treatment for first responders at the Biltmore Plaza in Belize City. Over the years, there have been disjointed responses to emergencies and the workshop seeks to bring together all agencies that respond to emergencies in an effort to preserve lives.  The training will standardize the process across first responders.


Lealou Reballos

Lealou Reballos, Technical Officer for Health Emergency, PAHO

“This is an interagency work that we are tying together and have a little bit more of the capacity that is required to provide life saving measures—not only at the hospital, but also when we are on site, on the road and so on. It is very practical. You will see some of the participant trying to practice what they learnt. For example yesterday we did some bandaging, how to lift patients; how to immobilize patients. And this afternoon we will be doing some splinting and caring for wounds and so on.”


A key stakeholder is the Ministry of Health, which provides personnel from across the country with updated training on emergency care procedures, specifically needed during times of disasters. Coupled with the services of emergency medical technicians from BERT and the like, Principal Public Health Inspector says that first responders are key to the survival of victims in times of accidents, fires and event mass casualty events.


John Bodden

John Bodden, Principal Public Health Inspector, Ministry of Health

“For this year, we had a number of training slated. We started with the mass casualty management training, we had the incident command system and now we have emergency care and treatment. In terms of disaster, the Ministry of Health is always responsible to ensure that the cadre of staff or people who respond to disaster as it relates to health are trained and have the specialized skills. Critical to the entire process is that in most major emergencies that we’ve had, people have been working in isolation so the police would respond, the fire [personnel] would respond but then they start tripping over each other because they have not been used to responding in a coordinating fashion. And so we need to ensure that everybody is clear as to their roles and responsibilities as it pertains to disaster management.”


The training shows the shortfalls in terms of coordination among the agencies. While the National Emergency Management Organization is the coordinating arm within government in times of disasters, Principal Public Health Inspector John Bodden says that there is the need for a central response system.


John Bodden

“A central response system which combines all the different agencies together to respond to the emergencies. So we should be seeing more often people responding as a joint agency and not necessarily independently.”


Lealou Reballos

“I think the committee exists already at the national level; I think it just needs to be strengthened and I think there is always room for improvement for coordination. And I think that Belize is on a good track in that sense.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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