After being the lead at the Belize Emergency Response Team (BERT) for the last eighteen years, Yvette Burkes-Barnes has passed on her seat to Andre Carrillo who took office in December 2016. Today BERT celebrates its 19th anniversary. Carrillo who has a Master’s Degree in Finance and over ten years in supervisory experience spoke on the organization’s milestone.
“Today marks the 19th year of BERT’S existence. August 1st 1998 was when BERT opened its doors through the assistance from the Rotary Club of Belize, in fact Rotarians from Belize are the ones who put it together along with Mrs. Yvette Berts Barnes who has been very instrumental in managing the organization over the last 18 years. So the Wagner Foundation and the Burlington Rotary of Wisconsin was also instrumental in ensuring that we were able to provide this high quality service over the last 19 years and they continue to support us.”
“How exactly is BERT managed? How many board members are we looking at and how often do you report to the board and that sort of thing ?”
“We have 11 members seven of them are directors. We held monthly meetings when I took over the organization that was at a critical time we had just closed down, we were in the middle of negotiations with the government of Belize, most of the ambulance had a lot of mechanical problems and we were losing employees and so they were very instrumental in assisting me and we were holding monthly meetings to discuss the way forward at BERT. Now that we have a new working MOU with the government and they’ve been supporting us financially we are starting to see the way forward and so the meetings will continue to run at least within two months to every quarter.”
As the new General Manager and National Coordinator for BERT, Carrillo says that his personnel respond to about three hundred calls per month.
“It fluctuates. The high season ranges from December to about April that is really when we have a lot of activities in the tourism season and so our activities at BERT coincide with the tourism season as well. We provide support services to the two cruise line Norwegian and Fort Street Tourism Village as well as support to the different tourism hotspots through our air ambulance support service. So during the busy season it can go all the way up to about 300 a month emergency calls it can go as low to about 220 during the slower season but it does peak. On a daily basis we can range between eight to twelve emergencies a day and we run a twenty four hour ambulance service we never close down not even on holidays this is a twenty four hour service. On days like the carnival for instance that is coming up we are expecting to respond to at least thirty and that is just in the Belize district alone so I can imaging the pressure on EMS around the country when you have these carnivals during the September celebrations. In Belize it represents around thirty calls a day so that is very stressful.”
Carrillo says one of his main focus in strengthening his team is the building of relations among its human resource.
BERT was officially opened on August 1, 1998 through the efforts of the Rotary Club of Belize.