CMI trains students for voluntary community firefighting, emergency response

Thursday, August 10, 2017

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SOME high school students in the Corporate Area are expected to receive firefighting and emergency response training from the Caribbean Maritime Institute, as it looks to encourage civic responsibility in Kingston communities.

The programme, which is expected to be implemented through the university's Merchant Marine Corps, will target communities in Port Royal, Harbour View, Bull Bay, and the general east Kingston areas as part of the school's corporate social responsibility.

The school's Executive Director Fritz Pinnock, while speaking at a handing-over ceremony at the institution in Palisadoes Park, Kingston, yesterday, said volunteerism in schools is paramount for transforming the education system and restoring “team, not individual, brilliance” to the island.

“The challenge to our education system is not a lack of passing examinations and class attendance, but that of poor attitude, self-centredness and indiscipline,” he said. “We are committed to using the [CMI] paramilitary approach to reach a wide cross-section of students, and volunteerism is something we must introduce in an attractive way in our culture, especially to our people.

Currently, the Merchant Marine Corps has more than 450 cadets enlisted in 17 high schools across Jamaica.

The handing-over ceremony saw the Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica Masanori Nakano donating three fire trucks and an ambulance provided through grant funding from the Embassy of Japan and valued at $9.6 million, which is expected to kickstart the school's thrust to encourage volunteerism through the training programme.

One of the fire trucks and the ambulance were donated to CMI, while the two remaining fire trucks were given to the Port Royal Fire Department and Donald Quarrie High School.

Pinnock explained yesterday that, in the first instance, CMI students will be trained, certified and expected to be on watch on a 24-hour basis in support of the Port Royal and Harbour View communities. He said, too, that eventually the school will target fourth- and fifth-form students for the programme.

“We are going to take our uniforms into the schools... and show that transformation can still take place in Jamaica,” he said. “We train people to pass exams, but not how to function in a real world.

“We are going to take the leadership into our communities. These vehicles will help us in an integrated way to introduce a new type of training in the curriculum,” Pinnock said.

Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry issued a similar call for the revival of volunteerism in Jamaica.

He argued yesterday that 69 per cent of America's emergency services comprise volunteers, while in Costa Rica, the figure stands at an impressive 100 per cent. However, in contrast, he said 60 per cent of those converging at emergency scenes in Jamaica are not volunteers, as people want to be paid for lending a helping hand.

The transport and mining minister said the gift of fire trucks and an ambulance from the Embassy of Japan will be used in a new initiative to bring back volunteerism.

He explained that the Merchant Marine Cadet Corps will partner with the Jamaica Fire Service, St Johns Ambulance Service, the Ministry of Local Government, as well as the transport and mining ministry to help build the spirit of volunteerism starting in the communities of Port Royal and Harbour View and eventually spreading to the entire Jamaica.

Meanwhile, the Japanese ambassador to Jamaica said the donation was necessary, “as no country can develop effectively without investing in its people”.

“I firmly believe, having better access to emergency response vehicles is an absolute necessity in a modern society, given the importance of protecting and safeguarding human life and property. Each person's fundamental right to basic health and emergency care should be equally guaranteed regardless of socioeconomic status.”

— Jovaney Ashman

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