OCR’s Ananda Alert Training a Success
The usually quiet complex where the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) is headquartered was abuzz with Ananda Alert volunteers on July 14 and 15, 2016. The volunteers, spanning several government and non-government agencies including the Child Development Agency, Victim Services Division, Ministry of Health, Department of Correctional Services, Hear the Children’s Cry and various Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) formations were trained in Basic First Aid and Search and Rescue.
This type of training is not new to the OCR which manages the Ananda Alert Secretariat. In fact, volunteers from St. James, Trelawny, Westmoreland, St. Ann, St. Catherine and St. Thomas previously benefited from similar sessions in 2014 and 2015. The Secretariat has formed a strong partnership with the Caribbean Search Centre of the JCF as well as the Jamaica Fire Brigade who both deliver the content in an effort to equip civilians with the requisite skills to assist the police in an effective Search and Rescue operation.
The two day training included a simulated search and rescue operation which allowed participants an opportunity to do area and vehicle search operations where guns, ammunition and explosives were hidden and found as part of the clues in the fictitious operations.
Sergeant Nadine Blake who manages the Missing Person Desk in the St Catherine South division expressed that the training was extremely beneficial. She confessed that even with her many years in the profession, she was alarmed by the very small and inconspicuous spaces that children can now be hidden in vehicles. Stemming from this training, Sgt. Blake and many other participants plan to utilize their newly acquired knowledge and skills to the area of child protection and other activities of the Secretariat.
Head of the Ananda Alert Secretariat and coordinator for the trainings, Ms. Nathalee Ferguson, indicated that despite fiscal and human resource constraints, the OCR would continue these types of initiatives. Miss Ferguson shared that “… the care and protection of our Jamaican children is everybody’s business. When we see videos regarding the abuse of children, the public is enraged but this feeling of anger dies down quickly. We operate within a very tight fiscal space but the OCR is very committed to sustained public involvement especially where it concerns safely recovering our missing children”.