Antiguans to benefit from training in urban search and rescue

Chile’s President, Michelle Bachelet, in discussion with Barbados Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, prior to a press briefing at the headquarters of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) at Lower Estate, St. Michael Thursday. (A. Gaskin/BGIS)

Local search and rescue officials will join their counterparts from Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago in a training programme in Port of Spain in September aimed at “strengthening capacity for local response in urban search and rescue operation . . . with the firefighters of Chile,” Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced in Barbados Thursday.

Bachelet, who was on a one-day official visit, said the training programme was one of two projects by Santiago, to help the region manage the consequences of climate change and the impacts of earthquakes and tsunamis.

The second project is aimed at reinforcing capabilities with coastal environmental management and will be held during a workshop in Kingston, Jamaica next October.

“We will continue working with the platform that we are developing with the Chilean/Japanese Cooperation on the initiative called Resilience. We are working on different aspects of disaster prevention such as seismic criteria and construction, post disaster assessment of structure, safety mitigation impacts of earthquakes and tsunamis and urban rescue,” Bachelet told journalists after holding closed-door talks with regional disaster management officials at the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agencys (CDEMA) headquarters in Lower Estate, St Michael.

The Chilean leader said her country had ratified its commitment to the Caribbean Community and CDEMA to continue working on areas where information sharing would be in the forefront.

Chile’s competence in seismic matters has impressed Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite, who said Barbados had a lot to learn from the Central American country in this regard.

“Your experience as a country in being able to respond to seismic matters . . . is an area where we as a region train and continue to ensure that we are able to respond, and hope and pray that we do not have to respond,” Brathwaite said at today’s press briefing.

He said Chile’s engagement with the region meant that there could be significant gains, particularly in the area of training, making particular reference to the relationship with CDEMA.

“I look forward to the growth of this relationship because there is much we can learn from Chile,” he said.

Executive Director of CDEMA Ronald Jackson described the president’s visit as timely, stating it allowed the parties the opportunity to share the progress being made under the CARICOM/Chile Cooperation Agreement.

He added that the closed-door meeting allowed them to examine how the intervention had advanced national imperatives for reducing risks and vulnerabilities.

Thursday’s official visit was designed to focus on the value added through the technical support provided to CARICOM member states through the CDEMA coordinating unit in the areas of urban search and rescue training, the Barbados Government Information Service said in a release.

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