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K1 DIRECT now trained in Emergency Medical Response

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Six K1 DIRECT members of the St. Maarten branch have completed their Emergency Medical Response Training facilitated by Windward Island Emergency Medical Services (WIEMS), certifying them for the next 2 years.

The dual theoretical and practical trainings were conducted over a course of 4 months consisting of two evening sessions per week of theory, and several weekend sessions of practical training and assessments.  The group first covered an introduction to EMS systems, ethical principles of emergency care, caring for numerous emergencies and processes of the biological system.

A year after Hurricane Irma, K1 Britannia Foundation launched its Disaster Relief and Crisis Team called K1 DIRECT which was formed to fill the needs the foundation identified in disaster response on the island and in the region - in its experience with relief work after Irma & Maria. K1 DIRECT now consists of 40 volunteers on St. Maarten and Curacao whom have completed their basic level of First Aid/CPR/AED, fire safety, psychological first aid and disaster response while preparing for trainings in Basic Search & Rescue, Shelter Management, Crisis Management, Emergency Logistics and more.

Emergency medical response is an integral part of effectively & holistically being able to assist persons in crisis situations. This training explored roles, responsibilities, and limitations of an Emergency Medical Responder, which included topics such as standard of care, medical directory, expressed and informed consent.

It then dived into topics related to caring for muscle/bone injuries, resuscitation, respiratory emergencies, soft tissue injuries, bleeding, pregnancy, and infant care to name a few. The course concluded with both a theory exam and practical assessment to test the volunteers’ ability to apply the knowledge shared.

Iris Hakkens, Program Manager of K1 DIRECT mentioned, “We touched on a broad number of topics including not only common trauma situations, such as broken bones and active bleeding, but also emergencies involving patients with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, or cardiac problems.

The training was really comprehensive as we covered basic medical jargon, which is important for instance in relaying information on the location of injury in relation to the patient’s body, interview skills and questions, and interpreting basic vitals signs. This training has given us the skills to treat life-threatening injuries to the best of our abilities until the professionals can tend to our patients, giving them the best chance of survival and avoiding further complications. I’ve already had to use some of the skills learned on a few occasions, and I’ve unfortunately also been through the devastating experience of not being able to save a life, but it has showed me that I am capable of jumping in to assist when there is a need and to give someone the best chance at survival, and that’s what we’re trained to do.”

K1 DIRECT Volunteer Laura Bijnsdorp summed her experience with the training saying, “The emergency responder training held by K1 DIRECT and WIEMS was extensive and fruitful. It delved into many situations one might encounter during emergency/disaster situations. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to learn about first-aid skills and hopefully I can be of better assistance during an emergency situation!”

The EMR training was made possible by K1 DIRECT’s founding sponsor Carnival Cruise Line. Carnival Cruise Line has committed to become long-term partners in disaster relief and found it imperative to play a meaningful part in not only the recovery but also preparation.

For persons interested in joining K1 DIRECT please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +1 (721) 580-3923.




Speakers of 8th Annual Governor’s Symposium on Economic Recovery announced

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) - The Governor of Sint Maarten, His Excellency drs. E.B. Holiday announced the speakers for the 8th Annual Governor’s symposium taking place on Friday June 21, 2019 held at the auditorium of the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Cupecoy. The theme of the Symposium is Shaping Sustainable Economic Recovery in the Caribbean - Challenges and Opportunities’.

The keynote speaker for this year’s symposium is Dr. Marla Dukharan, Caribbean Economist. She is recognized as a leading economist and advisor on the Caribbean, known for her insightful and frequent analysis on the regional implications of international events.

Dr. Dukharan has taken a leading role in driving discussion, public policy formation and action that foster gender equality, reduce income inequality, and promote new models of fiscal and economic resilience to lead the region toward a more prosperous and sustainable future.

The other speakers featured on the program for the 2019 Governor’s Symposium includes international, regional and national speakers and distinguished professionals in their respective fields:

  • Tahseen Sayed, Country Director for Caribbean countries at the World Bank;
  • Justin Ram, Director of Economics at the Caribbean Development Bank; and
  • Claret Connor, Director of the National Recovery Program Bureau.

The distinguished panel of speakers will give insight into economic trends and characteristics, policy constraints and opportunities and strategic actions in the area of, among others, the environment, infrastructure, and economic sustainability in relation to current and future national development. In particular issues of policy implementation and financing sustainable recovery will be explored. The presentations will culminate in an interactive panel discussion between the speakers and the audience which will be moderated by Mr. Antonio Carmona Baez, President of the University of St. Martin.

The Governor’s Symposium is strictly by invite only due to limited seating. The Governor has made seats available to persons 15 years and older who are interested in attending the symposium. If you want to be part of the 8th annual Governor’s Symposium you are requested to submit your personal information via the attendance application form on the website of the Governor of Sint Maarten Based on the information submitted a selection will be made and the selected persons will receive an invitation to attend the event. The deadline to submit your personal information is Friday, June 14, 2019. The symposium is scheduled to take place on Friday, June 21, 2019, at the auditorium of the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine in Cupecoy. Registration starts at 8:00 a.m. All are requested to be on time.  


Minister Johnson welcomes new boat building team at Kidz at Sea Foundation

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Kidz at Sea Foundation recently welcomed new students to its boat building class of its Build Your Future project.

The project acts as an introduction to the marine sector on Sint Maarten. It enables students of the Milton Peters College (MPC) between 14 and 18 years to join a special boat building class for several months and take sailing lessons in their spare time.

Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Stuart Johnson would like to welcome the new students who have joined the Kidz at Sea project.

The current boat building team consists of the following students: Rayzjeldrick Karel, Jason Gumbs, Natercia Eleonora, Owean Brown, Nyssa Williams and Kyshani Hyman.

Johnson added that this opportunity offers the youngsters an insight into the marine sector and what it entails by directly getting the experience from building a boat from scratch.

Via the Build Your Future project and other activities, the Kidz at Sea Foundation stated in a recent statement that it is dedicated to providing young person’s access to career opportunities in the marine sector of St. Maarten.

“The marine sector of the country which is an integral part of the national economy is dependent on healthy coastal and ocean resources. Our marine sector can be broken down into land-based activities and services offered by a variety of marine service companies from boat products to boat repair, painting etc.

“We have the dive sector with a number of companies offering snorkeling and diving explorations within the protected marine park and beyond the country’s coastal shorelines. This sector generates a significant amount of foreign exchange to the local economy. There are the boat charter and sailing companies that provide a niche of services and experiences for stay-over and cruise guests.

“The mega and giga-yachts is another area that contributes to the marine sector of the country. The marina’s stretched across the Simpson Bay Lagoon is testament to the vibrancy of the sector and the various businesses that provide support services.

“Overall, each niche sector creates and provides job opportunities for the nation’s youth. The Kidz at Sea Foundation is a steppingstone to opportunities and applaud them for their efforts and the stakeholders that support the foundation,” Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson said on Friday.

According to a statement from the Kidz at Sea Foundation, the boat that is being built by the students is a Didi 26 designed by Dudley Dix, and affectionately referred to as Hull #2.

This boat will become the sister ship of Purple Heart, the previous sloop built by MPC Vocational students. When put to sea, this world-class racing designed vessel sails with six crew.


NV GEBE Finalizes Hurricane Contingency Plan

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The NV GEBE Disaster Preparedness Committee met today Wednesday, with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kenrick Chittick to brief him of the finalized hurricane contingency plan.

The Disaster Preparedness Committee, headed by Patrick Drijvers, has been meeting since early March to ensure a most comprehensive plan and outlined the detailed way of work to CEO Chittick.

Follow up meetings with key staff employees will continue to take place this month to ensure a procedural implementation of preparedness, assessment and restoration of our facilities in the event of a storm, NV GEBE said in a statement.

Other members of the Disaster Preparedness Committee include Paula Gordon, Pedro Brooks, and Anthony Hodge.


CPS: May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. Choose Health Not Tobacco

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Every year, on 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and global partners celebrate World No Tobacco Day (WNTD).  Tobacco kills up to half of its users; kills more than eight million people each year; more than seven million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

The objective of the annual campaign is to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, to discourage the use of tobacco in any form, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, said on Friday.

CPS says the international focus of WNTB 2019 is on “tobacco and lung health.”  Tobacco is deadly in any form and threatens the lung health of everyone exposed to it, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease.  Tobacco kills one person every four seconds.

CPS adds that according to the WHO, the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.

There are multiple ways that exposure to tobacco affects the health of people’s lungs worldwide.  According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) these include:

Lung cancer. Tobacco smoking is the primary cause for lung cancer, responsible for over two thirds of lung cancer deaths globally. Second-hand smoke exposure at home or in the workplace also increases risk of lung cancer. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of lung cancer: after 10 years of quitting smoking, risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker.

Chronic respiratory disease. Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition where the build-up of pus-filled mucus in the lungs results in a painful cough and agonising breathing difficulties. The risk of developing COPD is particularly high among individuals who start smoking at a young age, as tobacco smoke significantly slows lung development. Tobacco also exacerbates asthma, which restricts activity and contributes to disability. Early smoking cessation is the most effective treatment for slowing the progression of COPD and improving asthma symptoms.

Across the life-course. Infants exposed in-utero to tobacco smoke toxins, through maternal smoking or maternal exposure to second-hand smoke, frequently experience reduced lung growth and function. Young children exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of the onset and exacerbation of asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis, and frequent lower respiratory infections. Globally, an estimated 165 000 children die before the age of 5 of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke. Those who live on into adulthood continue to suffer the health consequences of second-hand smoke exposure, as frequent lower respiratory infections in early childhood significantly increase risk of developing COPD in adulthood.

Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis (TB) damages the lungs and reduces lung function, which is further exacerbated by tobacco smoking. The chemical components of tobacco smoke can trigger latent infections of TB, which around a quarter of all people are infected with. Active TB, compounded by the damaging lung health effects of tobacco smoking, substantially increases risk of disability and death from respiratory failure.

Air pollution. Tobacco smoke is a very dangerous form of indoor air pollution: it contains over 7 000 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Though smoke may be invisible and odourless, it can linger in the air for up to five hours, putting those exposed at risk of lung cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and reduced lung function.

Don’t let tobacco take your breath away. Choose health not tobacco. #Notobacco

For more information call CPS at 542-3003; or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Minister Lee: Resolving the issues surrounding mental health care a priority for Sint Maarten

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Public Health Emil Lee attended a meeting with the interim-Director and Board members of the Mental Health Foundation on Tuesday May 28. In a “very open, candid, and constructive” setting, a number of structural issues were addressed, including finances, the process of permitting specialists, the worldwide shortage of psychiatrists and the challenges this presents in sourcing a qualified psychiatrist to serve Sint Maarten. 

During the Council of Minister’s press briefing of Wednesday May 29, Minister Lee elaborated on the main outcomes of the meeting. As it pertains to the finances of the MHF, the SZV and MHF recently entered into a two-year budget agreement that encompasses the current outstandings. This agreement is a way forward in addressing the financial issues of the MHF.  

All parties agreed that the most structural way to tackle the mental health and psychosocial care issues faced on Sint Maarten is to establish a tripartite committee. The committee would be comprised of health practitioners & administrators in the mental health sector, insurance providers and members of the Ministries of Health and Justice. The committee would handle matters such as developing an overall psychosocial plan which would encompass updates to the National Mental Health plan, developing an overall strategic framework, reviewing legislation relating to mental health, and reviewing the possibility for securing a new building to house the MHF and all the requirements to realize this.

“The Health tripartite committee structure has worked extremely well. This committee consists of the SMMC, VSA and SZV. The committee was established to guide the development of the new hospital and the cooperation between the entities in terms how we are moving forward with the development of our health care sector. I think a similar structure focused on mental health would also be beneficial.” - Emil Lee, Minister VSA  

To address the central complaint amongst institutions surrounding the permitting of medical specialists, a committee will also be formed that will focus on reviewing the process for the approvals of medical specialists. Minister Lee stressed that the Ministry is obligated to follow the law and maintain the quality standards that have been established. However, it is known that Government processes can sometimes become bureaucratic, thus the intention is to look towards streamlining these processes. A legislative writer will be part of this committee and the objective is to come with short, medium- and long-term solutions to simplify the process and meet the needs of Sint Maarten. 

The third point of agreement established during the meeting was the commitment to improve communication between the different entities. Minister Lee commented that the meeting outcomes tie in perfectly with the agreements made at the recently held Kingdom Health Conference in Bonaire. Mental health legislation was one of the topics that Sint Maarten set as a priority. With legislative assistance of the Netherlands, a template from Curacao and the vision of this Committee, the final product will be something that everyone can be happy with


USM ESL Students Receive Certificates of Completion

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Tuesday, May 21, students enrolled in the University of St. Martin (USM) English as a Second Language (ESL) program, received their Certificates of Completion. 

Some 12 students started the ESL Basic level program on February 5, 2019, and 9 received their certificates on Tuesday. The 72-hour program was held 3 times a week for 2 hours over a period of 12 weeks. 

Before receiving their certificates, Dean of Academics Dr. Rolinda Carter expressed words of congratulations and encourages to the students. She then challenged every student to say something in English to highlight their experiences in the program as they receive their certificate from USM President Dr. Antonio Carmona Baez and Dr. Carter. Students shared their happiness at being able to better understand and speak the English Language, while others noted the importance of continuing on to achieve fluency and proficiency. 

ESL Coordinator Corinne Lejuez-VanPutten, who was described as “full of joy,” by one of her students, said that her goal for ESL is to create a structure that would achieve quality, and sustainability at USM, while at the same time making it fun and meaningful for her students. According to Lejuez-VanPutten, her number one rule is: “Only English will be spoken!” implementing a type of immersion program where students are compelled to learn the language through different methods, such as using a translator app on their cell phones.   

The ESL program has 5 levels (Basic, 1, 2, 3, 4). Students received instruction in reading, writing, listening comprehension, oral activities, grammar and vocabulary. ESL Level 1 is set to start on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 5:30pm. Interested persons can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call USM directly at 542-5249 for more information.


UPDATE: 15-Year Old Missing Teenage Girl Found Safe

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) UPDATE - The missing 15-year-old girl by the name of Angelique Richardson who was reported missing on Sunday May 26th by Jennely Luidens was found safe and in good health on Monday morning May 27th police announced on Monday afternoon in a statement.

“She was brought to the Police Headquarters in Philipsburg for the Youth and Morals Department to conduct their investigation. The Police Department is taking this opportunity to thank the community who assisted in sharing this information on Social Media,” the police statement concluded.

ARCHIVE, SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Sunday May 26th an official report was filed by Jennely Luidens of a missing teenage girl by the name of Angelique Richardson, police said in a statement on Sunday evening.

J. Luidens is the legal guardian of Angelique who has gone missing since Saturday May 25th. Angelique has not contacted anyone to let them know where she is or if she is fine.

The Juvenile and Morals Department is aware of this situation and is asking the community to assist in finding this young girl.

The contact persons are J. Luidens cel: 526 -4322, Debby Rombley Cel: 587-3629, Police Department 54-22222 ext. 501/502 or the Emergency Line # 911. (Sint Maarten Police Force)


MP Mercelina pays a courtesy visit to the Minister Plenipotentiary of Sint Maarten and her Cabinet

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Member of Parliament (MP) L.F.E. Mercelina, during a private visit to the Netherlands to attend a medical symposium, made use of the opportunity to pay a visit to the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary on the Bezuidenhoutseweg in The Hague.

After a brief tour of the premises, the MP sat with both the Minister and Deputy Minister where he was informed about the different plans, processes and the activities at the Cabinet in The Hague.

After being informed of the above, the MP in an invited comment stated that he sees the added value of the Cabinet as a direct contributor to the relationship between the island and the Netherlands in particular and to the Kingdom in general.

The MP also noted that the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary in the Netherlands does not receive the recognition it deserves and that the Government of Sint Maarten should engage on a deeper level with the Cabinet as this institution is the first frontier where it pertains to direct and transparent communication with the island of Sint Maarten on Kingdom level.


CPS surveillance system continues to monitor for diphtheria. Free Vaccination Outreach this Saturday for 0-17-year olds

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in a recent epidemiological alert to public health agencies in the Americas, gave an update with respect to diphtheria in the Americas.

PAHO reiterates to Member States the recommendation to continue their efforts to ensure vaccination coverage of over 95 per cent with the primary series of three doses and three booster doses. This vaccination series will provide protection throughout adolescence and adulthood (up to 39 years and possibly beyond).

In order for the country to maintain a high vaccination coverage, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS) is inviting parents and guardians to bring their child (ren) to the free Vaccination Community Outreach that will be taking place this Saturday, May 25. During this activity, the child (ren’s) vaccination status can be checked. Parents and guardians must bring along the child (ren’s) vaccination record/book.

The outreach is scheduled for Saturday, May 25 from 9.00am to 3.00pm. The outreach will take place at the Vineyard Office Park at W.G. Buncamper road #33, in Philipsburg.

Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and even death. Vaccines are recommended for infants, children, teens and adults to prevent diphtheria.

In 2018, three countries in the Region of the Americas – Colombia, Haiti, and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela – reported confirmed diphtheria cases. In 2019, Haiti and Venezuela reported confirmed cases.

CPS, a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, has taken note of the PAHO alert which calls for continued efforts to maintain high vaccination coverage, and with the community’s assistance, this can be accomplished.

PAHO/World Health Organization (WHO) stresses that the populations at greatest risk are unvaccinated children under five (5) years of age, schoolchildren, healthcare workers, military service personnel, prisoner community, and persons who, due to the nature of their occupation, are in contact with a large number of persons on a daily basis.

PAHO advice for travelers, “Although travelers do not have a special risk of diphtheria infection, it is recommended that national authorities remind travelers going to areas with diphtheria outbreaks to be properly vaccinated in accordance with the national vaccination scheme established in each country prior to travel. If more than five years have passed since their last dose, a booster dose is recommended.”

PAHO/WHO recommends Member States strengthen their surveillance system for the early detection of suspected cases in order to initiate the timely treatment of cases and follow-up of contacts, and ensuring the supply of diphtheria antitoxin. Vaccination is key to prevent cases and outbreaks, and adequate clinical management reduces complications and mortality.

CPS surveillance system has been in the alert phase already for months for any suspected cases from the sub-Region and any country from Europe or the Americas where there is an outbreak of measles.

Now Diphtheria has been added to the list to be monitored and to report to the respective public health authorities; to secure timely intervention to mitigate possible increase of cases, to control, prevent the spread and to register relevant data.

Immunization averts an estimated two-three million deaths every year, protecting children from diphtheria, measles, pertussis (better known as whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhea, rubella, tetanus and others.

For more information you can call: 542-3003 or 542-3553 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Protect your community. Do your part. #GetVax

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