RED CROSS AT THE READY

By June 17, 2016General

 As hurricane season approaches and the focus is once again on disaster preparedness and response, residents begin to pay more attention to the resources that are available on-island to deal with any disaster.

The container project of the Cayman Islands Red Cross, for instance, often goes unnoticed throughout the year as the shipping containers have become fixtures in the community. These white containers branded with the organisation’s emblem store a myriad of disaster supplies – from tarps and hygiene kits to shovels and water collection containers. They are put in strategic locations throughout all three islands to help individuals, families and communities respond to local or national disasters while waiting for additional support to come in.

Ten containers are spread throughout Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands, with one in each district save for Bodden Town, George Town and Cayman Brac, which all have two. Additionally, the Red Cross has provided a container to Hazard Management Cayman Islands and the North Sound Gardens community for storage of their response items, bringing the total to 12 containers.

The container project is just one part of the overall strategy of the organisation’s disaster management program, which includes two distinct elements – disaster preparedness and response.

 The Red Cross works in partnership with Hazard Management Cayman Islands to increase disaster preparedness and community resilience at a grass-roots level through its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. Team members can be the first responders to assist residents after a disaster as access to emergency services to an area may be cut o . CERT training provides volunteers with basic skills and information in such areas as re safety, damage assessment, first aid and shelter management.

In an effort to keep all of the community teams engaged, the Red Cross and Hazard Management host an annual “CERT Challenge” to get volunteers to practice what they have learned by providing them with challenging scenarios which demand teamwork, knowledge and problem-solving skills.

While the winning team earns the o cial bragging rights, the entire nation wins when communities become so actively involved in disaster reduction. There are eight CERT teams: West Bay, North Side, Windsor Park, North Sound Gardens, Prospect, Cayman Brac, Belford Estates and John Gray High School.

Meanwhile, Red Cross disaster management volunteers who wish to enhance their overall skills and take on greater responsibility within the program can undertake the National Intervention Team (NIT) training. NIT training is the highest level of local training that Red Cross volunteers can undertake in any society, not just in Cayman.NIT training was delivered by the Red Cross earlier this year, and 21 Cayman Islands residents successfully completed this course, allowing them to join ranks with others across the region and the world. It also puts them on a path to become Regional Intervention Team members, which allows them to respond to events outside of Cayman when needed.

This year marks the 55th Anniversary of the Cayman Islands Red Cross, and the organisation has come a long way since it was founded in 1961 by Mrs. Ethel Cook – Bodden as a Committee of the British Red Cross. The disaster management program is one of the four main programs delivered by the organisation, and it is reliant on support from volunteers, community members and corporate partners.

To learn more, or to volunteer, email dm@redcross.org.ky.