JIS News

More than 150 volunteer shelter managers in St. Catherine recently participated in a three-day training seminar as part of preparedness measures for the 2007 hurricane season.
The training, which was organised by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in collaboration with the West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCo), focused on shelter management and operations, first aid, and how to care for vulnerable persons such as the elderly and those living with AIDS. “The plan is to have persons trained so if we have to utilize them we don’t have to look far, as we have those persons trained within the community,” said Parish Disaster Co-ordinator for St. Catherine, Patricia Lewis.
She told JIS News that participants were drawn from communities in Spanish Town, Sligoville, Luidas Vale, Old Harbour, Wakefield, Nightingale Grove, Bog Walk, Linstead and Guy’s Hill.
Mrs. Lewis noted that the shelter managers are now more aware of their roles and functions and could now “inform others how to prepare in the event of a disaster.” She added that the Parish Council is also in a “good position” to respond to a disaster, despite the shortfalls.
Additionally, she said, ODPEM in collaboration with an overseas agency had conducted a training programme for search and rescue teams involving representatives from the Jamaica Defence Force, the Fire Department, the police and volunteers from the Bog Walk Gorge area.
In addition, boats have been secured by the St. Catherine Parish Council to assist in rescue missions in flood-prone areas.

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