Mr. Peter Burgess, Emergence Response Facilitator at the Pan American Health Organisation, at a Mass Casualty Management System Training session hosted by the Ministry of Health and his organisation at the Nevis Disaster Management Department’s Emergency Management Centre at Long Point Monday.

A one-week Mass Casualty Management System Training exercise, aimed at creating a better understanding of a unified response in the event of a mass casualty situation and held in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), opened Monday at the Nevis Disaster Management Department’s (NDMD) Emergency Management Centre at Long Point.

“By the end of this course each agency will understand its role and understand the unified response. You would have sharpened your response skills, while effectively managing human and other resources when responding to a mass casualty incident. I guarantee you will enjoy this course, after having passed through it myself, even as you build your capacity,” Dr. Judy Nisbett, Medical Officer of Health in the Ministry of Health on Nevis, said at the opening ceremony.

“You will be exposed to a mixture of lectures, discussions and practical sessions. You will learn things such as triaging mass casualty incidents, coordinating transfer of patients to hospital, learn about the impacts of disasters, management of stress, radio communications just to name a few of the topics you will be covering. You will leave enthused.”

Dr. Nisbett noted that the training exercise, which brings together health personnel, officers from the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force and the St. Kitts-Nevis Fire and Rescue Services and non-governmental agencies including restaurants and other volunteers, is strategic, underscoring mass casualty management requires both a health response and a multi sectorial approach.

“The Pan American Health Organisation Mass Casualty Management System was developed for island states such as ours which are small, at risk for isolation in disaster situations, have limited resources whether financial, human or material, and I’m sure you can relate. For instance we have only one hospital with only one operating theatre, limited skilled personnel, limited emergency response resources such as ambulances and limited supplies,” she said, explaining how the training is designed to build capacity of all agencies responding to mass casualty incidents.

“We therefore appreciate we have to maximise existing resources and manpower to successfully manage any mass casualty event. All agencies present, we must work together helping each other to achieve their goals and ultimately saving lives and preventing disability, in other words, doing the greatest good for the greatest number of persons.”

Mr. Peter Burgess, PAHO’s Emergence Response Facilitator, told participants they should expect a rigorous training session.

“It will be a very intense course as you heard earlier from Dr. Nisbett and I expect that at the end we will foster better relationships, a more multi sectorial response and that we will be able to work together for the benefit of the country. When I conduct training I am very stern, and I am very serious about it because I have seen the benefits of having a mass casualty response,” he said.

“This is a very active, very physical course. It will not be like any course you would have done before. I guarantee that unless you were in the military or the police then you would know what I am talking about but I welcome all of you.”

The training exercise comes on the heels of one held in St. Kitts last week.