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Ready to ride the wave

Disaster officials addressing today’s launch ceremony.

Disaster officials addressing today’s launch ceremony.

Barbados’ participation in the Caribe Wave 2013 exercise will be an opportunity for residents and other officials to see disaster planning and programming initiatives that have been ongoing over the last six years.

Acting Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit, Dr. Lorna Inniss, explained that Caribe Wave 2013 was a simulation exercise at the national and regional levels.

Speaking during the official launch of Caribe Wave 2013 at the Atlantis Hotel this morning, Inniss said: “It is not just a national level exercise where we sit in a room and say ‘okay if this was a real event what would we do?’. We want to see how activities will occur on the ground in a community. That is what we are going to try to accomplish during this exercise.”

In presenting an overview of the 2013 exercise, Deputy Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds, said this year Caribe Wave would take the form of a national table top exercise at the DEM’s Warrens, St. Michael headquarters, where emergency management, and public and private sector stakeholders and the media would be involved.

“We will go through the paces and test our standard operating procedures and see where there are any potential weaknesses that we can improve on in the future,” she explained.

Noting that the date of the exercise would not be disclosed, Hinds added that this year’s event would also go to the community of St. John for a community-based scenario.

She explained that the Caribe Wave exercise was part of a global and regional initiative where Barbados and other countries in the region, are seeking to improve their tsunami preparedness planning.

The word tsunami was on the tip of the tongues of students from the St. Elizabeth Primary School today.

The word tsunami was on the tip of the tongues of students from the St. Elizabeth Primary School today.

“We are testing and improving our standard operating procedures, as well as our response capabilities to the tsunami hazards,” she said.

The deputy director further noted that one justification for staging this exercise was to improve and heighten the awareness of the population, the press, and the emergency responders to the tsunami hazard.

“We wanted to improve our level of response, [and] our tsunami preparedness planning at the national level. This is in keeping with the comprehensive disaster management mandate of the National Emergency Management System,” Hinds added, noting that Barbados also participated in the Caribe Wave 2011 exercise.

Chairman of the St. John District Emergency Organisation, John Haynes, explained that those persons who resided in that rural parish also lived on the coast, which fell within the Scotland District, and was prone to land slippage.

He added that areas like Foster Hall and Consett Bay presented challenges in terms of getting people out in the event of a disaster.

“We have to look at mapping out evacuation routes and to put in our Community Disaster Response Team so that those persons can be first responders in the area until wider Barbados can get in to assist them,” he said.

Haynes noted that the CDRT team comprised 30 individuals who were trained in first aid, and search and rescue, and were always ready and prepared to assist.

“We hope this exercise would be one which would test all the responses we could have, the communication [we have] to get persons out of the area, and to look at the evacuation route. We have done our preparation and we would continue to do what is necessary to assist the committee,” he said.

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