As part of the international effort to rebuild the Haitian government’s capacity and to protect its citizens from future disasters after the 2010 earthquake, the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), through its Humanitarian Assistance Program in its Civil Military Assistance Division, became a player in efforts to help Haiti’s Public Security Department address public safety and response. SOUTHCOM, based in Miami, is one of nine unified Combatant Commands in the Department of Defense, responsible for providing contingency planning, operations, and security cooperation for nations in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
In the earthquake’s aftermath, construction began on a network of fire/EMS stations in the capital cities of Haiti’s ten geographical/administrative departments (Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haïtian, Hinche, Gonaïves, Jacmel, Jérémie, Les Cayes, Miragoâne, Fort-Liberté, and Port-de-Paix), plus four additional locations. The project was coordinated by the U.S. Military Liaison Office in Haiti. Each of these stations needed an organizational framework, operating procedures, and trained staff with sufficient equipment to do their jobs.
SOUTHCOM selected ICMA to develop a plan for these emerging organizations. ICMA deployed a senior training specialist to Haiti to assist in establishing a fully functional fire/emergency response operation in the country. During this four-month program, ICMA undertook the following activities and delivered results in both English and French:
- Assessed the condition and status of each new station and the hazards that threaten it
- Recommended an organizational framework and standard operating procedures for the network of stations
- Designed a program of instruction for fire/EMS personnel, covering leadership, organization, basic firefighting, emergency medical services, and incident command and provided training materials, using Canadian French materials
- Developed a prioritized list of the furnishings, communications equipment, firefighting and emergency medical response equipment, and personal protective gear that each fire/EMS station needs to become operational in the short term
- Sought out potential sources of refurbished fire trucks and ambulances for the new stations.
ICMA carried out the program in coordination with the Haiti Public Security Department and others involved to ensure that its work complemented initiatives already in place.
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