His Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut recently hosted training for emergency first responders as part of efforts to develop a plan for responding to fires on the facility’s grounds.

The Feb. 21 session was overseen by HMP Deputy Superintendent Joe Wilcox, and it included representatives from the Virgin Islands Fire and Rescue Service, the Royal VI Police Force, the Emergency Medical Service, the Department of Disaster Management, and the prison.

Mr. Wilcox said a plan is “desperately needed” in order to provide guidance to facilitate safe and secure operations in the event of a fire or other large-scale disaster, according to Government Information Services.

The plan will focus on strategies to reduce infrastructure damage while keeping inmates in custody and minimising possible injuries and deaths, GIS noted.

“We need to understand what the fire brigade needs from the prison to ensure they feel safe in cases of emergency,” Mr. Wilcox said. “We also need to know what the medical staff wants, because we understand that not everybody feels safe rushing into the prisons. That is what this training is about: how to deal with major incidents that could potentially lead to mass casualty.”

Topics addressed

During the session, the first responders considered security challenges that might arise from major disasters, according to GIS. They also discussed risk-assessment strategies.

Mr. Wilcox said he hopes that within two months a simulation drill can be held at the prison to give first responders, prison staff and inmates a full understanding of the response process.

“From this, it is good to work together with everybody,” he said. “We can understand the needs of each department and system and work together as a team to bring any incident under control. We also can understand each other’s challenges and what we need and ensure we provide the safety and security to those emergency personnel coming in to help.”