Welcome To The Barbados Defence Force
Field Medical Facility
Projections: It is envisaged that the team will receive its verification of a Type 1 Emergency Medical Team in September 2019. Once this is completed, the BDF will work towards obtaining the Type 2 verification in 2020.
About The Field Medical Facility
The Barbados Defence Force (BDF) has responded to numerous sudden onset disasters 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 higher 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. The BDF also provided logistic support for the British deployment Operation RUMAN, which saw the British relief effort being staged in Barbados to assist the British Overseas Territories which were affected. It was noted that this was one of the fastest peacetime deployments of military personnel from the UK and the BDF acquitted itself exceedingly well in the support and facilitation of the effort.
On 27 June 2018, the Barbados Defence Force officially received a gift of four tents and assorted medical equipment and supplies from PAHO. In accordance with the WHO EMT Initiative, the EMT would respond in the aftermath of a catastrophic where the medical services of the country have been severely disrupted or overwhelmed. The EMT is a self-sufficient entity (providing not only medical services but also the full suite of logistical support services – this includes the provision of its own food, water, accommodation, power, sanitation services and supply chain. 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.
The BDF’s Operation SUPPETIOR, a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission to Dominica, made it clear that there was a need to further develop the surge 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) Florence Gittens, it was decided to establish a Medical Facility that would meet the World Health Organisation Emergency Medical Team standards.
The FMF, which is currently working towards achieving WHO Type 1 status, contains the following areas:
- Triage and Reception
- Logistics Support (to include Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Management)
- Command and Control Centre
- Accommodation (to include kitchen, messing area, bathroom/shower facilities)
This Type 1 Facility will be operational over a 12 hour period and should be able to process a minimum of 100 outpatients daily. As there are no in-patient facilities for the Type 1, major trauma emergencies will be stabilized and transferred to another facility which would be able to provide the proper standard of care.
The development of the Field Medical Facility serves to strengthen Barbados’ disaster response mechanism specifically in the area of the provision of health services and also strengthens the regional response mechanism. The BDF intends to develop a Type 2 EMT which would see the inclusion of an operating theater, X-ray and lab facilities, and in-patient wards. This Type 2 facility would be operational on a 24 hour basis.
The development of the EMT Initiative in the BDF is undertaken by a Working Group led by HQ BDF G5 (Staff Officer Policy and Plans) Major Junior Browne. He is the EMT Coordinator, responsible for ensuring that the Force’s Strategic vision is carried out and that the EMT becomes fully functional. Lt Col (Ret’d) Florence Gittens is the Chief of Staff’s Principal Adviser on the development of the EMT. Major Dr Rene Best is the Force Medical Officer and provides guidance and direction with respect to the clinical aspects of the EMT. Other members of the Working Group are made up of the operational command.
Major Marilyn Patrick
Second in Command
Major Andrew Darlington
WO2 Winfield Cadogan
OCdt Sherish McCaskie
Captain Wesley Beckles
Major David Binks
Sergeant Charles Rouse
Members of the Field Medical Facility mainly train on the last weekend of each month for one day, except during field exercises. (Training on Saturdays is repeated on Sundays). This is to ensure maximum participation by all persons.
The Training Plan includes such general areas as:
- The EMT Initiative
- The Deployment Cycle
- The EMT Activation Process
- Camp Construction and Maintenance
- Psychological First Aid and Managing Stress on Deployments
- Equipment Familiarization
- Hygiene in the field
- Safety and Security on Deployments
Clinical and logistics team members are also further exposed to areas within their specialties as they seek to build greater competence in these areas. For example, clinical team members learn more about the triage system, FMF patient records system, operating in austere conditions while the logistics team is exposed to areas such as power and water distribution in a camp setting.
Team members will also be required to take part in field training exercises to expose them to living and operating in an austere environment. To this end several exercises will be held each year which may also include an overseas exercise. Members of the FMF EMT took part in Exercise TRADEWINDS 2019 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This was the first time that the entire team and its equipment deployed outside of Barbados. The EMT was able to utilize the knowledge and skills from classroom and simulation exercises – activities, ranging from ergonomics involved in packing a vessel with equipment to setting up tent accommodations in inclement weather. The team received positive reviews from officials from USAID, the Canadian Forces, Deputy Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, US Coast Guard among others.
The BDF EMT is a unique body, encompassing Regular, Reserve and civilian volunteer’s personnel working together towards one goal – the provision of health care in emergency situations.
How to Volunteer?
BDF welcomes civilian volunteers in the following areas and specialties to work with the Field Medical Facility:
Emergency Medicine Doctors – Nurses – General Practitioners – Surgeons – Anesthetists – Paramedics – Radiographers – Lab Technicians – Psychologists – Plumbers – Technicians – Electricians – Radio Operators – Contractors – Nursing Assistants – Environmental Health Personnel – Information Technology -Cooks.
Volunteering is easy. Interested persons are asked to fill out the attached form. You will then be invited to attend one of the information sessions or speak to one of the EMT Coordination Team to find out how best you can fit into the EMT.