JIS News

A massive earthquake sensitization programme is underway in Westmoreland, as the parish heightens preparedness in the face of the threat of the natural disaster.

According to Disaster Preparedness Coordinator for Westmoreland, Rev. Hilma Tate, thousands of students and adults are being educated on the dangers of earthquakes, and how they can mitigate the effect.

She said that during Earthquake Awareness Week, which is being commemorated January 9-15 under the theme, “When an earthquake strikes be bold! drop, cover, hold”, and into next week, educational institutions, hotels and public community groups will participate in earthquake awareness presentations, drills and a panel discussion across the parish.

“What was done and focused on mainly this year, is to carry out a number of drills, as persons have been hearing about what to do and most have an idea what to do when an earthquake strikes,” she said. However, she said that it is very important that individuals practice the response.  

“This is necessary so that if the earthquake comes, they do not respond as if it were a fire; hence the need to practice the response for an earthquake and know the difference,” she told JIS News.

She also said that special training would be carried out at the Savanna-La-Mar Infirmary, where workers will be educated in search and rescue operations.

“My main concern is that because we have not been having earthquakes, we know that many of our houses may not be built to withstand an earthquake,” she observed.

She also called on more private and public entities including schools, hospitals and children’s homes ensure that they carry out fire and earthquake drills so that persons can better prepare themselves for disasters.

“Each institution should have two alarm systems, so that when an alarm goes off, they would know which drill they are practicing and respond in the correct manner,” she said.

Jamaica’s location, along the northern margin of the Caribbean Plate, and the presence of very active faults, makes it vulnerable to earthquakes.