May 6, 2017 marked the official launch of the St Vincent and the Grenadines First Responders group â (SVGFR). As its motto implies, “A Hand in times of Needâ, is indeed timely, as we approach another hurricane season, due to start on June 1.
The formal launch of SVGFR took place at the SOV club and took the form of speeches, a cultural performance and video presentation. President of the newly formed SVGFR Arthur De Shong gave a brief outline of the purpose of the first responders group and what it has accomplished even before it was launched.
Other remarks came from the director of NEMO Michelle Forbes, who welcomed the group and offered technical assistance in the form of workshops and other training programmes.
Also addressing the gathering of disaster management stakeholders was the director of the Rainbow Radio League Inc Donald De Riggs, who urged the group to empower all communities with skills to respond, as well as called on sponsors and donors to provide the group with the âtoolsâ to make their work more effective; these include specially outfitted land mobiles, SAR maritime vessels, as well as rotary wing aircraft, to assist with day/night SAR, post disaster reconnaissance and for the deployment of special skilled responders, like radio operators or initial damage assessors in the field.
The feature address came from Idelia Ferdinand, PhD, who also welcomed the SVGFR group and who, among other things, provided sound advice for this young volunteer organization. During her address entitled “My Island, My Lifeâ, Dr Ferdinand noted “this First Responders group simply means âmore hands on deckâ at the community level to prepare for, respond to and recover from hazards.â
The guest speaker went on to advise the group to take “baby stepsâ going forward and that its role and service will be vital to the nation; â¦ “To SVG First Responders, this exercise here today is saying to our people that you are here to serve â¦ Therefore, the onus is on you to ensure that you build the capacity of the group to be able to respond and take actions that will reduce suffering and protect lives, including your own lives. Remember we can replace material things, but people, we canât.â
The next major training event will be a communications training course from May 15-19, leading up to a Technician Class Radio licence. The venue for this course will be the SOV and interested persons can register in person on the first day of the course. Registration begins from 4 p.m. and the course will run from 5 to 7 p.m. daily.