BDF Increases Capacity to Respond to

Disasters and Mass Casualty Events

Colonel Glyne Grannum, Chief of Staff Barbados Defence Force  | 27 APR 18
Photography credit: Olav A Saltbones, Norwegian Red Cross, 2010 
Corporal Maynard D

Set against the background of more active hurricane seasons, severe weather events and other environmental threats, the Barbados Defence Force has been increasing its capacity to respond to disasters and mass casualty causing incidents through the development of a field-mobile hospital company.

Based on the long-standing strong partnership with Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation and national stakeholders, the Force is due to benefit from on-going training activities on logistics and technical subjects related to increasing this capacity. The effort is a part of the Force’s modernisation strategy. It is envisioned that the field-mobile hospital company will support the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and be accredited as a Field Emergency Medical Facility (Type 2) within the PAHO/WHO system.

While the BDF has long had some mass casualty and field hospital capability, the need for re-equipping and an increase in operational capacity continues to receive attention. Such an operational capacity has local applications and beyond, in the Eastern Caribbean under the auspices of the Regional Security System and the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency where disaster management scenarios associated with climate change continue to present significant challenges.

Speaking during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) on the Fond Cole, Woodbridge Bay Port in Dominica, Colonel Grannum said the delivery of supplies was being accelerated, even as efforts were ongoing to clear a clogged road network to get aid into the most impacted communities.

BDF Soldier delivering supplies during hurricane relief efforts

Outside a Haiti field hospital after 18 January aftershock

Most recently the Force facilitated a public lecture and technical engagement forum.

Colonel Gustavo Alonzo (a retired Argentinian Colonel who managed the Field Hospital in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake) visited Barbados between 24 – 27 April 2018.  As a subject matter expert/adviser on the matter of field hospitals and their deployment in disasters, Colonel Alonzo presented valuable insights, knowledge, experience and guidance on related subjects. During his visit he met with BDF’s medical and mass casualty leadership and some technical service persons from across the local medical response community in order to discuss and advise on the subject.

PAHO/WHO is also committed to the donation of some medical tents and equipment that can help with the setting up of a Field Emergency Medical Facility (Type 2).  The BDF will seek to further develop and exercise the capacity to deploy a field emergency medical facility in the coming months leading up to the 2018 hurricane season.