JIS News

Story Highlights

  • A competition, aimed at encouraging schools to implement their own disaster strategies was launched on October 6 in Kingston.
  • The Schools Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning Competition, involves collaboration between ODPEM and UNICEF.
  • It invites institutions across the island to establish their own Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans (EPRP) in keeping with the standards developed and listed in the EPRP for Schools and Child Care Institutions manual.

A competition, aimed at encouraging schools to implement their own disaster strategies was launched on October 6 in Kingston.

The Schools Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning Competition, involves collaboration between the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

It invites institutions across the island to establish their own Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans (EPRP) in keeping with the standards developed and listed in the EPRP for Schools and Child Care Institutions manual.

At the launch held at ODPEM’s Haining Road offices in Kingston, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Jamaica, Deirdre Kiernan, informed that EPRP was developed in response to a survey, which found that emergency plans for schools were inadequate or varied across institutions.

“These guidelines for the development of emergency preparedness and response plans for schools and children homes now have a standardised tool to help them get ready for any possible emergencies by having clear, specific plans,” she noted.

Miss Kiernan said at the end of the competition, “schools and children’s homes would have at the minimum, created an emergency plan that students, teachers, parents and caregivers own, meaning everyone knows what they are suppose to do and what’s going to happen”.

“That is the most important part of emergency response; everyone knowing their role. Not only are they familiar with it but they understand that their roles and what they are expected to do,” she pointed out.

Director of Safety and Security in Schools at the Ministry of Education, Sergeant Coleridge Minto, says the Ministry fully endorses the initiative.

He said that having emergency plans in place can go a long way in mitigating against personal losses that might incur in the event of a disaster.

“The EPRP schools completion will challenge schools to establish their own plans and is aimed at engaging schools participation in the planned development process, thus ensuring compliance with UNICEF safety and security requirements for educational facilities,” Mr. Minto said.

Director of Information and Training at the ODPEM, Cheryl Nichols, informed that the competition will run from October 6 to November 14, 2014.

Schools are being asked to submit their plans to the ODPEM head office at 2-4 Haining Road, Kingston 5, or through the parish disaster coordinators across the island. For more information, persons can contact the ODPEM at 906-9674-5.

Ms. Nichols expressed the hope that at the end of the process “the nation’s schools and by extension, our children, will be that much more prepared and will be in a better stead to deal with disasters, which are a looming reality.”