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JIS News

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) will be undertaking an islandwide earthquake simulation exercise on January 31. This is part of activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the earthquake, which destroyed Kingston and Port Royal on January 14, 1907.
The simulation exercise is being organised to occur right after Earthquake Awareness Week, which will last from January 14 to 20, under the theme: ‘Prepare Now, Don’t Wait, be Ready for the Next Earthquake’.
At a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, Acting Director General at ODPEM, Ronald Jackson said: “We are hoping that out of this, we will be able to review and update our National Earthquake Management Plan, and learn lessons that relate to the state of our resources as it relates to earthquakes”.
He indicated that subsequent to the exercise, ODPEM would be having symposiums with a panel of scientists to discuss findings from the simulation exercise, to look at the whole matter of the country’s earthquake preparedness in Jamaica and the challenges that the island faced.
Some 25 organisations located in downtown Kingston, inclusive of the Ministry of Education and Youth, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and the Correctional Services will be participating in the exercise.
The Northern Caribbean University in Manchester, and Brown’s Town Community College in St. Ann will be the chief sites for simulations in their respective parishes. Other entities, including schools, and business places across the island will also be involved.
Director of Preparedness at ODPEM, Omar Afflick, informed JIS News that the simulation exercise will synchronise activities in all 14 parishes. “By and large, the majority of the exercises will occur on the same day, synchronised with the major drill [in downtown Kingston], so everybody will be feeling the earthquake at the same time, everybody will be responding at the same time,” he pointed out. The National Emergency Operation Centre, as well as the Emergency Operation Centres in each parish will be activated, giving “the National Emergency Operation Centre the chance to co-ordinate multiple incidents within the parishes, and the emergency services, such as the Police, the Fire Brigade, the Ministry of Health, Red Cross, and others to exercise their respective plans,” Mr. Afflick explained. In the meantime, the ODPEM will put on several other events to mark Earthquake Awareness Week. These include a service at Coke Methodist Church on Sunday, January 14, beginning at 9:30 a.m. to launch the week. The service will be broadcast live on Love 101 FM.
Additionally, the ODPEM, in collaboration with schools and parish libraries islandwide, will host exhibitions and public sensitization forums throughout the week. A major exhibition, dubbed ‘Quake’, will be mounted at the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston from January 14 to February 28 to display photographs and other relevant material, featuring Kingston before and after the 1907 earthquake.
On Thursday, January 18, ODPEM will be having an Open Day, specially targeting school children and senior representatives from the schools. The event is geared towards educating them, through interactive sessions, to become disaster preparedness advocates in their schools and communities.