Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Fifteen soldiers from the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF) and five from the St. Kitts and Nevis Fire and Rescue Services (SKNFRS) are better prepared to respond to catastrophic events after completing an advanced Search and Rescue course on Friday (January 13, 2023).
The training was organized by the SKNDF and facilitated by members of the Florida National Guard under a State Partnership Exchange Programme. Sessions during the January 09 to 13 workshop included theoretical and practical exercises based on various real-world events. The participants explored advanced techniques used during structural building searches and forest rescues.
Fire Officer Dennis Morris commended the five-day training.
“The training was very good. It was intense at times, and we learned a lot in the space of time,” Officer Morris stated.
Officer Morris is a member of the SKNFRS Search and Rescue Unit, so most of the course material and training exercises served as a refresher. The SKNDF soldiers, on the other hand, were excited as they used familiar techniques such as map reading to help execute the rescue mission.
Lance Corporal (LCpl) Val Henry was the only female on the course. During the practical exercises, she led one of the reconnaissance teams responsible for entering the building and identifying the wounded, casualties, building hazards, and other potential dangers. The information is then shared with the search and rescue teams to expedite the rescue process.
“You don’t want to go into a building blindfolded,” she said, noting that reconnaissance during rescue operations helps to protect the lives of victims and emergency officials.
The training also received high marks from Sergeant Xavier Grant. Grant is a member of the SKNDF Bravo Company (Reserves) and an Air Traffic Controller at the R. L. Bradshaw International Airport. He explained that the information shared by the Florida National Guard officials is extremely practical given that Reserve members are based throughout the Federation.
“This information can be applied in everyday situations,” Sergeant Grant stated. “For example, a teacher at school, having a situation. As a member of the SKNDF, she can use the information to help save [lives] and be better equipped to rescue a person in need of assistance.”
The building rescue exercises were conducted at the Fort Thomas Hotel, while the forest rescue was held in the rainforest.