USA/ BAHAMAS – The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA and its partner the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) are engaged in a series of wildland fire fighting training exercises aimed at preparing the communities across The Bahamas for any such disaster. NEMA and the USNORTHCOM completed training exercises on six islands. They are: New Providence (June 2017), Abaco (August 2017), Exuma (March 2018), Long Island (June 2018) Andros, (July 2018); and the latest held in Crooked Island from 25 to 27 July 2018. Approximately 90 participants comprising individuals from the public and private sectors on each island underwent the training exercises, with a view to equipping them with the skills to tackle wildland fires should they occur. The participants were trained in life-saving techniques such as CPR, basic first aid, how to use the tools during wildland clearing, how to set up an Incident Command System (ICS), how to operate the fire pump, how to use the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), among other techniques.
The participants also gained knowledge of how to safely fight a fire to possibly save lives and property. And at the end of the training, each participate received a certificate of completion. The equipment used for the training included a Skid Unit (a 200 gallon fire pump with a high pressure hose attachment); SCBA tanks and a compressor to fill them, draft suction pump, fire line clearing tools, and fire suits. The estimated cost of each set of equipment is $38 000; which was left in the care of Local Government on each island to be used in the event of an emergency.
Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell underscored the importance of such training exercises and the long-standing relationship with the USNORTHCOM. “NEMA is pleased with the continued partnership with the USNORTHCOM and the United States Public Health Service in our continued approach to comprehensive Disaster Management, and building capacity throughout the Islands of The Bahamas to respond to any disaster, natural or manmade,” Captain Russell said.
The facilitators and trainers were Captain George Alveres, US Fire Department, Kyle Fisher, Public Hospitals Authority, Leading Seaman Romeiko Burrows, Royal Bahamas Defence Force attached to NEMA; Leading Mechanic Ingraham, Royal Bahamas Defence Force attached to NEMA; Kirk Cunningham, Forestry division and other personnel from The Bahamas and the US.
The United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) is a Unified Combatant Command of the U.S. military tasked with providing military support for civil authorities in the US and protecting the territory and national interests of the United States within the contiguous United States, Alaska (not Hawaii), Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, The Bahamas, and the air, land and sea approaches to these areas.