Exercise Tradewinds 2019

BDF Media Release| 17 Jun 19

Photography credit: Lieutenant Shimar Gollop 

The Barbados Defence Force (BDF) Field Medical Facility (FMF) will be participating in Exercise TRADEWINDS 2019 (TW19) Phase 2 in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) during the period 14 – 22 June 2019. This year’s exercise will allow the BDF FMF to assess its capacity to function as part of a Regional response mechanism.

The Barbados Defence Force (BDF) has responded to numerous Sudden Onset Disasters (SODs) throughout the Region for 4 decades. This response has mainly been through the provision of security elements to sustain law and order, humanitarian relief units and also artisans to assist with the rehabilitation of the affected areas. This was indeed the case after the devastation of the Category Five and Category Five plus hurricanes of the 2017 hurricane season, as the BDF provided support in several affected countries including the Commonwealth of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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Post Dominica 2017, it was realized that there was a need to further develop the medical response capabilities of the military. The main local hospital was severely impacted and while there were medical teams from various countries and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) present to assist, there was no one unified Caribbean response. To this end, after engagement with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and in consultation with Lt Col (Ret’d) Gittens, it was decided to establish a Medical Facility that would meet the World Health Organisation Emergency Medical Team standards.

The EMT would be deployable locally in the event that the health care system was severely impacted in the aftermath of an SOD or that the system was overwhelmed in some way and also regionally under the auspices of the Regional Security System (RSS).

The BDF has embarked on the process of developing a Type 2 Emergency Medical Team but is first focused on the development of the Type 1. The Type 1 provides mainly outpatient care and stabilization and referral of major trauma cases. The Type 2 not only provides outpatient care but also provides in-patient care and has Operating Theatre capabilities.

To date the BDF has received a number of donations of equipment from partner nations and partner organisations and has enlisted the assistance of over one hundred and thirty (130) volunteers. These volunteers currently train on a monthly basis and have been exposed to basic military training and the various elements of the operations of a Field Medical Facility.

It is envisaged that the team will receive its verification as a Type 1 Emergency Medical Team in July 2019. Once this is completed, the BDF will work towards obtaining the Type 2 verification in 2020.

The BDF FMF comprising of military and para-military personnel, doctors, nurses and civilian volunteers, is led by Major Junior Browne, Major (ret’d) Marilyn Patrick and Major Andrew Darlington.