Government starts training Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) in Sint Maarten

June 15, 2023 9:09 am

Participants from communities across Sint Maarten have been trained to become CERT members. They are now qualified volunteers, who are organized to lead, manage and implement disaster risk reduction activities in the communities.

Sint Maarten, June 5, 2023. The creation of CERT is a part of the Government of Sint Maarten’s plan to enhance disaster preparedness and response.

The CERT is community-based first responders who will complement and support official response institutions, in the event of small or major disasters within their geographical area. They will also lead community-level preparedness and risk reduction activities, such as community risk mapping (CRM) and risk awareness raising on an ongoing basis.

CERT members are volunteers, and their work and activities are not remunerated. In case of emergencies and/or major disasters, they are activated as part of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) structure in Sint Maarten, taking on a key role in their community.

The Training
The first CERT has been trained, within the project ‘Technical Assistance to Sint Maarten for disaster response and preparedness’, funded by the European Union.

“This training provides community leaders with skills and knowledge to assist their communities during disasters in Sint Maarten. It is also an excellent way to empower communities to reduce disaster risks and proactively work with the government to protect people’s lives”, said Marilise Turnbull, facilitator of the CERT training.

The training included modules on humanitarian principles, the disaster management system in Sint Maarten, CERT structure and mobilization, post-disaster needs assessment, equity, shelter and distributions, fire safety, first aid, disaster psychology, and communications in disaster situations.

Gladys François, a member of the first cohort of participants in the CERT training, shared that “the more the community becomes aware of the need to have a good emergency plan in place, the more you will be able to not only help yourself but to help your community as a whole”. Given the strategic, technical, and operational roles of CERT members, they must meet specific requirements for experience, skills, and competencies.

Once they have been pre-selected, they are invited to attend the training. A certificate accrediting their training has been given to all participants in the first CERT training cohort. Based on learning from recent experiences, the government of Sint Maarten will continue to establish CERT until adequate coverage for all districts has been achieved.