PRESS RELEASE – St Lucia has been placed in a strong position to handle a Chemical attack, after St Lucia Police and Fire Officers completed extensive training in South America this week.
Police Officer Kervin Raymond and Fire Officer David Antoine both completed a three phase advanced training program in handling Chemical Warfare Agents and Incidents involving Toxic Industrial Chemicals, in Colombia on the 8th April 2016.
The training which was officially labeled “The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (O.P.C.W) Basic, Advance and Final Exercise Training Course” was held in Brazil (23-27 March 2015), Argentina (20-25 April 2015) and Colombia (4-8 April 2016).
The course which was very intensive and consisted of grueling practical exercise and simulations, was co-organized by the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW and the Brazilian National Authority to the CWC at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
There was also close coordination with the Brazilian Ministry of Defense, The Argentine National Authority to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of the Ministry of Security, namely the Cadet School of the Federal Police and the Government of Colombia with direct engagement of the National Directorate of Fire-fighters of Colombia (DNBC), and the Colombian National Police.
Through different field exercises of growing complexity, the officers reaffirmed and consolidated acquired knowledge and skills in the use of individual protective equipment, reconnaissance, detection, sampling, decontamination and response to attacks with chemical warfare agents or incidents involving toxic industrial chemicals. The course also provided extensive training in the practice of the incident command system approach.
As a result of this training, a new reference team of 30 first responders from 15 States Parties from the GRULAC region will contribute to the strengthening of their response capabilities through their assimilation into the national response teams, spreading the obtained knowledge and skills nationally and regionally, and through their integration into the growing regional network of OPCW trainees under the umbrella of Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The training also built on the continuous discussion and exchange of information and experiences that contributed to the strengthening of the team spirit of this new group of trainees. Contingency planning issues were addressed by means of a table-top exercise.
Training of this nature is important as the imminent threat of Chemical Weapons to cause mass casualties by Terrorist is a present danger. Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons attacks constitute a sizeable portion of terrorism risk. This risk has become a growing concern as there is evidence that the insecurity in the Middle East has emboldened terrorists’ groups to acquire and develop such weapons.
The participants of the training came from Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Saint Lucia. The officers have both expressed high level of satisfaction with the training and an even higher level of confidence as they look forward to their new roles in the respective organizations.