Throughout the world, emergency disasters and accidents are becoming significantly more common. It is therefore essential that emergency response personnel are trained and prepared for any eventualities.
From October 28, 2019 to November 1, 2019, Belizean first responders from the Ministry of Health, Belize Emergency Response Team, Southern Emergency Services, Belize National Fire Service, Belize Police Department and Department of Transport participated in PAHO’s skills-based emergency care and treatment (ECAT) training. The 40-hour course, jointly funded by the European Union through the Health Sector Support Programme Belize and the Global Affairs Canada under the project Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Program – Health Sector, was designed to develop participants’ skills in providing pre-hospital care as first responders, specifically in assessing and caring for patients’ injuries or illnesses during the first few minutes of an emergency.
“In many cases, the site of injury is not close or near to a hospital or medically trained individuals and some intervention is needed to preserve the life of injured persons,” said John Bodden, Principal Public Health Inspector of Belize Ministry of Health. “This training will allow persons to render assistance to stabilize persons and prevent death until the necessary specialized emergency medical help becomes available.”
Thus, the participants were exposed to quick and appropriate emergency interventions that can save lives and can lead to an overall decrease in mortality and morbidity. Manuel Romero, Transport Officer for the Belize Transport Department, was a participant in the training and believed it was helpful to him and can help his community.
“It’s something that exceeded my expectations,” said Romero. “Definitely something that is going to be beneficial to me and my community.”
Another participant, Damaris Tacen, Public Health Worker for the Ministry of Health, believed she can now share with others in her village the knowledge she received in the training.
“This training, yes, is very important for not just myself, but my family too and of course for my community,” said Tacen. “As a community health worker this is very helpful and I’m sure that I can teach other members of the village so they can learn; this will help them at any time of their life.”
The training was facilitated by PAHO’s Regional Emergency Response Trainer, Peter Burgess, who believes emergency response personnel can provide valuable life-saving measures from the safe extraction of injured victims from an incident scene to triaging and performing the necessary basic medical skills.
After sitting written and practical examinations, 19 participants were successful and became PAHO Certified Emergency First Responders of Belize.