Forty-two EMTs certified as WIEMS turns 20

POSTED: 04/2/12 3:51 PM
Firefighters from the Princess Juliana International Airport. (Leo Brown photo)

St. Maarten – The Windward Islands Emergency Medical Services (WIEMS) marked its 20th anniversary by adding 42 certified emergency medical technicians (EMT) to its ranks on Sunday at the Dutch Quarter Community Centre. The organization was formed on March 25, 1992. Of the 42 graduates, 25 were recertified while 17 were new. Evander Quailey of the ambulance department received top honors for her outstanding performance.
WIEMS’ Medical Director Dr. Glen Bryson used the opportunity to reminisce on bygone years when untrained personnel brought patients to the St. Maarten Medical Centre with little or no information about the patient’s condition at the time. He said that the decision taken by five people to form an organization to address this shortcoming resulted in more than 1, 000 persons passing through the hands of the WIEMS for different levels of medical certification.
“We have reached a milestone of 20 years of providing training in pre-hospital care,” Dr. Bryson declared proudly.
The emergency medical responder and technician courses offered by WIEMS often act as a stepping stone for those who are desirous of furthering studies in patient care. For years the organization which conducts classes out of the Dutch Quarter Community Centre has decried the fact that they do not receive any government subsidies. Dr. Bryson said that with a proven track record of assisting the community and providing quality courses it was time for “official recognition through government for the licensing of these courses that we provide.”
In response Minister of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth Affairs, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, who was among the invitees, said “I think that is a good challenge for us to work to ensure that as soon as possible you programs are accredited.”
She reminded the graduates that education is a lifelong process and “if you don’t have the passion for what you are doing, it doesn’t work out.”
Apart from local volunteers, the organization also relies on professionals from the United States to maintain an updated curriculum. The EMT class of 2012 comprised security officers, fire fighters, ambulance personnel, teachers, civil servants and emergency dispatchers.
Before handing out pins and EMT cards, Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, Cornelius de Weever cautioned, “You will be called upon at a certain moment, so be prepared. Each one teach one.”
St. Maarten is one of the first Caribbean islands to recognize the value of training emergency personnel for a tourist destination. WIEMS annually conducts simulated mass casualty and disaster management exercises at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) along with other emergency personnel to ensure that the island is always at a level of preparedness.
Photo collages and newspaper articles of WIEMS activities throughout the years were on display at the anniversary celebration. Dr. Bryson and his wife were also honored for their lifelong commitment to the advancement of medical education on the island.
The organization thanked companies that have made it a priority to train their staff by handing out plaques and paper weights. These included the PJIA Fire Department, Ambulance Department, Sheriff Security Force N.V and Nagico Insurances. Instructors also had to recertify and were presented with their new EMT instructors cards at the 20th anniversary celebrations.

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