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JIS News

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has said that the recent hurricane drill held in Bull Bay, St. Andrew was a success.
“We think it was extremely successful and the feedback from the community indicated that they were able to form crucial networks within the community,” said Acting Senior Director at ODPEM, Omar Afflick.
During the drill, which attracted residents from nearby communities, a search and rescue operation was conducted along a river bank. In addition, shelter management teams were formed to manage shelters and a command centre set up to track and coordinate messages.
Mr. Afflick told JIS News that persons were able to practice what they had learnt at an ODPEM search and rescue training programme held a year ago, to sensitize the community on how to respond in the event of a hurricane. During that exercise, participants were exposed to training in shelter management, first aid, search and rescue and disaster management.
Superintendent of Police, Bull Bay Police Station, Talbert White, who worked at the command centre during the simulation, had high praise for the exercise. “I think they can only get better with constant practice. Some people didn’t fully assess the situation properly and deal with it on a priority basis so they may have to look at these areas and do a re-run but I think overall it was a good effort,” he pointed out.
Team leader for the Community Disaster Response Team, Alpha Green, said the experience was well worth the effort. “We can’t prevent the eventualities but with training, we could minimise any disaster that would affect the community”, he said.
In the meantime, Mr. Afflick said that for this hurricane season, ODPEM will be organising follow-up preparedness meetings with the residents in order to keep them informed about first-aid practices.
The ODPEM Acting Senior Director also informed that greater effort will be made to get wider community support for the meetings.
Funding for the staging of the drill, which was held in collaboration with the Jamaica Red Cross Society, was provided by the European Union.