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GDF builds capacity in Disaster Risk Management

The Guyana Defence Force’s has boosted its capacity with regard to Disaster Risk Management (DRM) with the recent training of 31 ranks of its Coastal Battalion. The two-day training, a collaborative effort with the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) was held on May 15 and 16, at the battalion’s headquarters at Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast. 

The battalion’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jaswick Williams, indicated that the training was very timely and was meant to “...bring the personnel and the Unit up-to-speed in terms of executing its role and responsibilities in the conduct of its civil duties.”

 “As part of its mandate, the Coastal Battalion is required to execute Disaster Risk Management and response activities in all communities where such interventions become necessary. We are meant to be the first response team of the GDF in the event of the occurrence of natural or other disasters in our country” he said. “Many will recall that the GDF was among the first to respond when the nation experienced the floods of 2005, and we were also integrally involved when floods ravaged Region Nine in the recent past,” he added.

During intense interactive sessions led by CDC’s Operations and Training Officer, Major    Kester Craig, the participants studied modules on Data Gathering, DRM in Guyana, Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis Systems in Guyana, and Teamwork. They were evaluated at the end of each presentation and also engaged in a field exercise which required a demonstration of the lessons learnt, particularly as it related to damage assessment. Major Craig noted that the results were pleasing though he acknowledged that it could have been better had the training been scheduled over a greater number of days.

“The participants were enthusiastic and were successful at identifying vulnerabilities and hazards affecting the Anna Regina community,” he said. “This is critical for any layman to be able to do and much more so, DRM personnel who are required to take action during calamitous occurrences. Once they know what the hazards and vulnerabilities are, they can at the basic level, take a commonsense approach to helping to reduce the risk,” he added. Several persons have been identified for more intensive training as instructors, They will enable them to continue training internally.

The DRM training was conducted in the context of Civil-Military (Civ-Mil) capacity building, which is the rationale for the involvement of members from the Joint Services and civil institutions. Other participants were drawn from the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Fire Service, the Regional Public Health Service, the Charity Hospital and a Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC). The primary hazard in Guyana is flooding and often demands Civ-Mil collaboration.

Major Craig said the combination of skill sets is extremely valuable, especially when one considers the response requirements for personnel and equipment.  The training is to be replicated with troops from Bartica and New Amsterdam, as early as next month.GDF bids USMLO goodbye...