SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG)—The national emergency services, namely the Fire Department, Police and Ambulance Departments, completed several days of multi-agency training in the district of Cole Bay together based on scenarios where they need to depend on each other to manage an incident successfully. Since the beginning of this year the Fire Department, Police Department and Ambulance Department havesintensified their joint trainings in order to continue to develop their professional capabilities and relationships. A key aspect is communication and understanding the procedures of the different entities.
The emergency departments also held exercises in January in the St. John’s neighborhood where an incident was staged by the training staff with a car accident and the possibility existed that one of the vehicles and its occupants were just involved in a robbery incident.
The emergency services are keeping joint operational exercises to test their current operational levels and to increase their knowledge, skills and ability in working together. As the trained scenarios grow in complexity, the amount of action needs proper joint coordination, also known as Incident Command, which is essential in an emergency situation. All participants are trained in the Incident Command system, which is also part of the execution of the St. Maarten Disaster Plan.
During these drills, particular measures have to be followed, but also protocol. After the Police secures the scene, the Fire Department ensures scene safety and the Ambulance decides on the care for the wounded persons. The Fire Department extricated those persons who were stuck inside the vehicle. A smooth operation was secured by the on duty Officer of every emergency service when meeting regularly and taking decisions together. The emergency personnel communicated with each other and the persons they came to care for.
During the “mock” operation there were several extraordinary circumstances, like a protest activity by a crowd of people. The ambulance service (EMS) had to not only deal with the safety issues and the accident, but also unruly persons who wanted to interfere in one way or the other with the work of EMS medical technicians. A multi-scenario events trains the services to anticipate and follow protocol for possible escalation of emergencies.
The training staff consists of representatives of each of the three national emergency services departments. “By going through these scenarios with as much personnel as possible, we are better able to practice and better operate when a real event happens. We get to adjust and fine tune protocols where these incidents are concerned and to work together like a well-oiled machine,” was the main comment of the training staff.
The exercises will continue through the year and will be part of the annual Hurricane Exercise (HUREX). The emergency services will train several different types of major incidents, where they would need to depend on each other and in so doing they will be better prepared when disaster strikes.
The public is asked to be aware of the emergency services doing their exercise drills in the coming months throughout neighborhoods across the country and to be as helpful and cooperative as possible should they come across an exercise in progress. The department heads of these emergency services are very pleased with the ongoing trainings that would better prepare their on duty officers and further enhance cooperation amongst these services.