VERT completes jungle survival training

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Members of the Civil Defence Commission’s (CDC) Volunteer Emergency Response Team (VERT) are taking their disaster response training up a notch.

Over the weekend, the team travelled up the Essequibo River to the Colonel Robert Mitchell Jungle and Amphibious Training School (CRM-JATS) at Makouria, where they underwent a rigorous 3-day survival training course. The volunteers arrived at the location on Friday morning and immediately began training with a crash course in tying basic knots before engaging in a river crossing exercise.

Over the three days, the participants were tested mentally and physically as they battled the heat, lack of access to basic amenities and sleeping in the jungle to complete the training. Several of the volunteers described the experience as a very humbling one.

Onika Jones from the National Communications Network (NCN) told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that “the training was a reminder that no matter how hard a situation may seem it can be conquered if you put your mind to it,” adding that she is now better equipped and prepared to handle a disaster.  

Jeffery Walcott, an engineer attached to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure said the overall experience was “unforgettable and bit of a rollercoaster ride”. He explained that the exercise was a combination of several things which made overcoming the challenges fulfilling.  The mental frustration that comes from not knowing what to expect, being mentally and physically pushed, exhausted, having basic amenities removed and having to endure all of these things in an environment like the jungle really does push your mental limits.”

Safety and Occupational Officer attached to the Sustainable Housing Solutions programme at the Central Housing and Planning Authority, Christopher Singh said the training exercise helped to prepare the participants to handle any situation that may arise from a disaster.

He explained that the training consisted of relevant elements that apply to emergency and allowed us to become aware and cognizant of our surroundings and how to maximise the use of available resources to survive which is necessary for a disaster situation.” He also remarked that the training served as a great team-building exercise.

The training will see the VERT participants being exposed to knowledge of basic knots, which is useful in securing items during river crossing and basic survival training. Officer in Command at the CRM-JATS, Captain Eon Cameron explained that the exercise was supported by members of the Brazilian army who conducted the improvised floatation training as well as navigation, fire starting and jungle trap training.

Director-General (DG) of the CDC, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, in brief remarks, stated that the training programme was a “critical juncture” for the VERT programme. He told the participants that the training was designed to strengthen them individually to respond to a disaster whether locally or regionally.

He expressed his satisfaction with the team’s initiative and encouraged them to take what they have learnt seriously. The DG also expressed gratitude to the Officer in Command as well as the Brazilian officers for facilitating the training.