NEMA takes the lead in Earthquake Preparedness

Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 24, 2012 (SKNIS): The National Emergency Management Agencies (NEMA) in St. Kitts and Nevis is encouraging residents to be prepared for any possible disaster including earthquakes.

Carl Herbert, National Disaster Coordinator of St. Kitts noted that a three-day workshop coordinated by NEMA was specifically designed to enable key players to understand the role of an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) during an earthquake.

SKNIS Photo: Locating the Disaster SceneSKNIS Photo: Informing News Agencies about the disaster

A simulation exercise concluded the training and Ivor Blake Simulation Exercise Planner was responsible for that aspect.

“As we put together all the components for the exercise and the concept of the operation we intended to execute, the thought came to my mind – and most the committee agreed – that we focus a lot on the hurricane season, that’s our mindset when it comes to disaster planning,” Mr. Blake explained. “We recognize that we are fairly adequate in that regard and so we wanted to move away from that and do something a little different and test our capabilities as regards to an earthquake impact.”

Mr. Blake stressed that it was necessary for individuals including children to accept their personal responsibility to mitigate disasters. He revealed that the simulation would allow the Disaster Mitigation Committee to identify the weaknesses and gaps of the recommended EOC and enable adjustments before presenting the plan to government for final adoption.

SKNIS Photo: Updating on Disaster InformationSKNIS Photo: Coast Guard charting strategy

Brigadier Earl Arthurs, of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Coordinating Unit was on hand to assist with the training. He explained that the training employed a strategy termed EDIPQ which stands for Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, Practice and Question. The Brigadier noted that disaster management should be a continuous process.

“Disaster Management is a journey – that means you are moving forward,” Brigadier Arthurs emphasized. “Today, you guys are here at a certain level, by tomorrow with the knowledge you have grasped and the experience you got through, you’re supposed to go to the next level and by the end of the year, you’re supposed to be a little bit better and by the next year even better. So what I’m trying to say is that you’re better off today than you were yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow. You’re always striving to be better – better prepared.”

Elvis Newton, Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security noted that the simulation would also serve another purpose.

SKNIS Photo: Fire & Rescue & Construction OfficialSKNIS Photo: Inside EOC

“I note also that this simulation exercise is really intended to be a part of our efforts to upgrade our national disaster plan,” Mr. Newton explained. “We have been engaging in that process for a number of weeks now, this will ensure that we are in a position to better inform what we are doing. Disaster preparedness/management is everybody’s business. We only have to recall what happened over the past few days, [the rain, wind and flooding caused by Tropical Storm Raphael] everybody became concerned.”

The EOC exercise took place simultaneously in both St. Kitts and in Nevis.

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