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JIS News

The St. Elizabeth Parish Council Monday (August 30) held a workshop for members of its disaster management operation, representing some 30 persons drawn from various agencies, at the Port of Call Hotel.
Mayor of Black River, Councillor Jeremy Palmer, told JIS News that the training was an opportunity to refresh members of the Parish’s Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) of their roles and responsibilities when it has to be in operation.
The Mayor said he was pleased with the turnout and participation of persons representing the critical stakeholders in disaster management, and that the Council tries to keep its response system in place, so that they can meet and respond to emergencies, if and when they arise.
“In order to operate the Centre, we need to have the cooperation of the related agencies, working together in a time of disaster. And this was a refresher seminar to bring the agencies together and appraise them of the operation of the Centre,” Mr. Palmer stated.
The seminar saw the participation of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the St. Elizabeth Fire Department, the Red Cross, the health sector, the National Irrigation Commission (NIC), and community groups.
The Mayor noted that the agencies that are critical attended Monday and participation was fulsome.
“We will continue with a follow up. We are always preparing, and one of the major areas of preparation is to keep the drains clean. The NIC is critical to that, because they control the major waterways,” he explained.
Parish Disaster Coordinator for St. Elizabeth, Renee Bradford-Britton, said that by having everyone involved in the decision making process, “we can make better decisions, because there is an easier consultation.”
“It also lends itself to better resource management. With all agencies present, we know what each is offering, this minimizes duplication of efforts where multiple agencies are responding to the same situation, and in the same manner,” she said.
She called for emergency management and coordination at the household level, so that when disasters strike, children, parents and the community can activate their own responses, before that of the authorities are implemented, which would lessen loss of property and lives.
The Parish has an ongoing community training disaster management for the parish. The seminar was funded by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).