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ODPEM Pilots First Small Operations Boat Handling Training Exercise In St. Catherine, May 2 & 3, 2008, Jamaica

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The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) will be training 26 participants in the first ever Small Operations Boat Handling Training on May 2 & 3, 2008.

The two days of training will see 26 fire fighters and community-based volunteers from St. Catherine and Clarendon being trained in the basics of oar/paddle boat operations and rescue operations. Day One of the course will take place at the Old Harbour Fire Station and will be theory-driven to concern the following:

1. Personal survival techniques while on the water.
2. Oar/paddle boat operations to include steering and boarding the boat, staying afloat and controlling the boat while conducting a rescue operation.
3. Rope work and knot tying.

Day Two will be the practical component of the course and will see the hands on applications of the theory taught on Day One. This will be held at Milk River, Clarendon.

The 26 participants comprise fire fighters from four St. Catherine fire stations – the Waterford, Old Harbour, Spanish Town and Linstead fire stations – and volunteers from community based search and rescue response teams made up of residents who live in the vicinity of the Flat Bridge.

Mr. Wycliffe Frater, a former trainer at the Caribbean Maritime Institute, will conduct the training. He was a trainer with the Institute for 12 years, specializing in survival and rescue, and is currently the chairman of the Old Harbour Zonal Disaster Committee.

Faced by increased incidents of capsized vehicles in the Rio Cobre in the Bog Walk Gorge, the St. Catherine Parish Disaster Committee in 2007 requested boats from the ODPEM to facilitate rescue operations within the Gorge. These boats were then donated to the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) who later expressed to the ODPEM a need for training to build their capacity to respond to such incidents. This pilot training is therefore aimed at increasing the capacity of the JFB and community-based volunteer groups to conduct water rescues, especially within the Old Harbour and Linstead areas.

The ODPEM welcomes coverage of this pilot course, specifically Day Two on Saturday, May 3, 2008 to be held at Milk River, Clarendon. For more information contact Ms. Kerry-Ann Morris, Information Officer, at 472-7120.

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Written by Staff Writer