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Health’s Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Office to Hold First Pediatric Disaster Expo

The V.I. Department of Health will hold its first Pediatric Disaster Expo on St. Croix and St. Thomas. (Source file photo)

The V.I. Department of Health’s Office of Emergency Medical Services Regulatory is hosting its first-ever Pediatric Disaster Expo to provide parents, childcare professionals and advocates with information about how to manage emergencies involving young children.

The Pediatric Disaster Expo is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 11, at the D.C. Canegata Recreation Center on St Croix and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Saturday, June 15, at Pier 22 on St. Thomas.

The expo is for parents, children and those who care for and provide services to children,” said Jacqueline Greenidge-Payne, director of the Office of Emergency Medical Services Regulatory (EMS Regulatory) at the V.I. Department of Health. “We found that children are often overlooked in the preparedness planning process. This entire program is geared toward children and helping prepare them to be ready in disaster.”

The Pediatric Disaster Expo will feature information from departments and organizations that provide resources and services for children. Participants include the V.I. Department of Human Services, V.I. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Fire Pre-Cadet, Civil Air Patrol Pre-Cadet, St. Croix Central High School’s Health Class, Disability Rights of the Virgin Islands, the Roy Lester Schneider and Juan F. Luis hospitals, several V.I. Department of Health divisions, VITEMA and the V.I. Police Department (VIPD) and the Police Athletic League (PAL).

The EMS Regulatory Office has also partnered with VIPD to offer parents a “passbook,” Greenidge-Payne said. “Parents can have their children’s photos taken and kept in a passbook. In the event their child is missing or lost (for example, in a disaster) the photo is readily available for an Amber Alert.”

“One of the other big takeaways of the expo will be learning how to prepare a checklist for babies and children,” Payne said. “We noticed that there isn’t a lot of readily available information for parents specifically on how to prepare for babies or children in a disaster.”

he Pediatric Disaster Expo is just one part of the EMS Regulatory Office’s strategy to address caring for children in emergencies. Between October and December of last year, the EMS Regulatory Office also provided emergency room, pediatric and neonatal intensive care unit nurses with trauma nursing core, advanced cardiac life support and advanced pediatric life support courses.

The certified courses were completed by 88 nurses territory-wide as part of the office’s Emergency Assessment Recognition Program.

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion is encouraging parents to make attending the expo a priority.

“Children are exceptionally vulnerable during emergencies and disasters. They are entirely reliant on adults,” said Commissioner Encarnacion. “This is especially true from an emotional standpoint because they’re still learning how to express themselves. So, it’s important that we know and understand the appropriate actions to take.

“Putting together a checklist, making sure you have the right contact information, and having current photographs are all good first steps for effective planning.”

In addition to the information tables and handouts, the Pediatric Disaster Expo will have fun activities and entertainment for the entire family.

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