JIS News

The Registrar General’s Department (RGD) has assured that the over 124 million vital records stored by the agency are still safe and intact, following the passage of Hurricane Ivan.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the RGD, Dr. Patricia Holness, told JIS News that the department had a 15-member disaster preparedness team, which was responsible for activating the agency’s disaster preparedness plan in the event of an emergency.
“As an agency that is required to preserve the country’s records, we do have a long-term disaster preparedness plan, which we are constantly revising. It seeks to speak to natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, bombing, fires and also disasters that could affect our electronic database,” she said.
“We were alerted to the threat of Hurricane Ivan on Wednesday, September 8 and our team met for two hours, reviewing our disaster preparedness plan. Following that meeting, each team member, both at the regional and head offices, informed staff of the plans that would be put in place for safe keeping of our documents, records and equipment,” she pointed out.
Dr. Holness noted that all records were safe as early as noon the following day, September 9.She pointed out that the team members meet at the start of each hurricane season to identify possible challenges, which might arise.
“For an unforeseen emergency such as a fire, our vaults are fire proof with a special FM200 Technology. This is an environmentally friendly gas, which prevents combustion,” she said.
Critical to the functioning of the system is the fire detection and control network. Typically, smoke detectors sense the presence of fire in the protected facility. The detection and control panel then sounds an alarm, shuts down air handlers, disconnects power from the protected equipment, and then releases agent into the protected area.
“In the event of a flood, the vault has a built-in drainage pattern that can almost be considered water proof. Additionally, all our records are stored at elevated levels so that they won’t be affected by flooding,” she added.
The CEO noted that records are also stored in duplicates, which are stored at offsite locations.”By duplicates, I also mean the electronic version. In fact, the RGD carries out regular back-up of electronic data and regularly carries out verification that the back-up can be retrieved so that we can restore them when necessary.
Every original document is also stored in acid free boxes to prevent bacteria growth, which may cause decay,” she explained.With these contingencies in place, Dr. Holness said that the RGD has never lost any of its documents in a disaster.
The CEO pointed out that the RGD stores approximately 7 million vital records electronically and over 33 million in microfilm and microfiche.
The RGD acts as a repository for all births, deaths and marriages occurring in the island. It also keeps bills of sale, conveyances, wills and naturalization records.All RGD offices across the island are up and running, despite the passage of the hurricane.

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