by Julia Rawlins-Bentham
The Barbados Defence Force (BDF) has come in for high praise from United States officials for its development of a Field Medical Facility (FMF) to assist the region in the event of a disaster.
USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team Leader for Exercise Tradewinds 2019 (EX TW19), Melinda Hutchings, described the FMF as “phenomenal”, after touring the campsite at the Biabou Playing Field in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Monday afternoon.
“I found out about the facility here…. I am pleased with what I have seen, and to learn that this was an outgrowth of the 2010 disaster in Haiti…,” she said.
Ms. Hutchings, who also provides humanitarian assistance to the US Military through the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, described the FMF as a “regional answer to a regional problem”.
“It is using the resources that we have. It is much more expeditionary because you can get there quicker; you are cheaper and you are using regional expertise, which makes sense. I am excited to see your certification process as you are only 10 months old, which is very impressive to me,” she said.
The USAID official expressed confidence that the BDF FMF would achieve its World Health Organization certification, based on what she saw in operation during Monday’s EX TW19 simulation.
“You are a completely deployed military unit…. It is an entire package rolled into one in this condensed area. It is extraordinarily well-organized and your staff is motivated and ready to help. That is what impressed me,” she said.
Sub-Regional Manager for the Regional Assistance Programme USAID OFDA based in the Bahamas, Beryl Armbrister, also described the facility as impressive.
Ms. Ambrister noted that she was proud to see the region undertake such a project, as many of the islands were prone to all types of disasters, including hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides.
“I hope that it will expand, and we can get more of what you need. It can go a long way in disaster relief. There are hardly any disasters that don’t end up with injuries,” she said.
Ms. Armbrister said she hoped that other forces in the region would follow the BDF’s example and establish similar medical facilities. “It would be a great asset,” she stated. (BDF Field Medical Facility)