Participants needed for Emergency Response Team

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 1            January 10, 2002

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In an effort to aid the overworked healthcare professionals and address the situation of available medical care on the island, a group of paramedic instructors will soon be visiting the island to provide training. Local resident Malcolm Hitchcock of Fido's Courtyard was introduced to US fire department captain Bruce Carpenter last year while receiving training at Ian Anderson's Caves Branch. After a brief visit to the island, Mr. Carpenter, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) paramedic instructor, became aware of the need for his services. He promised Mr. Hitchcock he would investigate the possibility of conducting some future training for emergency personnel and residents of San Pedro Town. 

    Mr. Hitchcock has recently received word that Bruce Carpenter and three of his associate instructors have offered to use their vacation time to donate paramedic training for the island. They are scheduled to arrive in mid-February and will provide first aid and rescue training to any interested individual. Mr. Hitchcock stated, "Our ultimate goal is to establish an emergency response team for the community so that there will never be another senseless death due solely to the lack of basic first aid knowledge." He explained his vision for at least one representative from the fire department, town council, tour guides and each hotel on the island be trained in basic first aid. Mr. Hitchcock stated that the police departments of San Pedro and Caye Caulker have already pledged three representatives each to be instructed. The San Pedro Town Council has expressed interest in training for one of their work crew members as well.  "If we could supply maybe 20 of these trainees with pagers and even two of the twenty responded to an emergency situation, imagine how great that would be for our community," exclaimed Mr. Hitchcock.

    If this exercise is successful, the team of instructors is willing to come back in a year to instruct candidates in advanced first aid training as well. Mr. Hitchcock also advised those who may not want to wait that long, that further training all the way to paramedic status can be arranged through Caves Branch. If there is enough interest, he can arrange for training to be conducted on the island for added convenience.

    "This is being offered entirely for free and is completely non-profit," stated Mr. Hitchcock. He continued that the only expense is the option of purchasing one of three packaged kits that will be brought down by the instructors upon request. These kits and the price of each are: Basic First Aid ($294US), Advanced First Aid which includes oxygen and suctioning units ($1486US) and Water Rescue which includes a floating back board and stretcher ($1525US). A list of the contents of each kit will be made available to anyone interested. Mr. Hitchcock is providing and making arrangements for food and lodging for the paramedic instructors for the duration of their stay.

    Mr. Hitchcock concluded by saying, "This training will benefit every one of us, and our children, who reside on this island. An accident can happen at any time and quick emergency response may be the difference between life and death." Emergency personnel, local groups and the general public are urged to accept this opportunity to receive training in order to provide this much needed service for their community. Anyone wishing to participate in this generous offer of free basic first aid training may contact Mr. Hitchcock at Fido's Courtyard by calling 026-2056.



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