St. Catherine Parish Disaster Seeks Formal Arrangements with Flat Bridge Divers


The St. Catherine Parish Disaster Committee is seeking to establish formal arrangements with the group of volunteer divers, who conduct search and rescue operations at Flat Bridge.
The divers have long being rendering assistance to road accident victims, who end up in the Rio Cobre River, which flows beneath the bridge located in the Bog Walk Gorge.
Speaking at a special meeting held on Tuesday (June 17) at the Spanish Town offices of the St. Catherine Parish Council, to discuss risk reduction measures during the hurricane season, Spanish Town Mayor, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, said that the community-based divers are seeking payment for their work.
“While they are willing, they need some subsistence. They are not wealthy persons and we are now contemplating a proposal to look at the different approaches to working with these persons in the community,” he said. He noted that there is need to encourage the rescue team as well as to attract new volunteers.
Mayor Wheatley, who is also the Chairman of the St. Catherine Parish Disaster Committee, said that steps have been taken to support the community-based search and rescue volunteers and in 2005, five persons participated in a swift water and flood rescue training exercise conducted by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
The exercise was geared towards further strengthening the capabilities of agencies involved in emergency response as well as building the capacity for search and rescue in Jamaica.
In 2007, the group received search and rescue equipment including life jackets and diving gears, raincoats, water boots, flashlights, and first aid kits. “They really appreciated it since it gave them some level of recognition and there is no better way to encourage persons but to recognize them,” the Mayor stated.
He noted however that despite the appreciation shown by the group, the Parish Disaster Committee has recognized that “something more needed to be done.”
In agreement, Director General of ODPEM, Ronald Jackson, who also addressed the small gathering, said that “the time is now right for us to formalize a relationship with these groups to look at the issue of remuneration, not necessarily from the point of view of a salary, but something that will reward their efforts.”
He said the move will require “a public/private sector partnership to work for the good of our communities.”
Representatives of Government and private sector agencies, including members of the police, attended the meeting.

JIS Social