MONTEGO — With less than three weeks before the start of the 2011 hurricane season, Disaster Preparedness Coordinator for Westmoreland, Rev. Hilma Tate, is reporting that the parish’s disaster response machinery is ready to offer quick and effective response in the event of an emergency.
She said that emergency supplies are in place and all 66 schools in the parish, which will serve as shelters, have been inspected and approved. Inspections of community centres and churches are underway.
She was speaking at a meeting of the Westmoreland Parish Council in Savanna-La-Mar on Friday.
During the meeting, 33 residents of communities in the parish, who recently completed training in disaster management and response, were presented with certificates of participation.
The training course, conducted by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) for two weeks last month, was aimed at equipping residents to respond during a disaster and other emergencies.
Included among the group were 18 students, drawn from the Godfrey Stewart, Mannings, Petersfield, Little London and Maud McLeod high schools, who were trained in first aid, incident command, basic disaster management, search and rescue, and damage assessment, under the Government's Emergency Response Initiative.
"Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding, mandated ODPEM to train 1,000 youth (across the island) in disaster response and as a result of that, students were selected from schools in Westmoreland last April,” informed Rev. Tate.
The other 15 residents, from the McNeil Lands and New Roads communities, benefited from training in first aid under a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) project.
The six-month Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.
By GLENIS ROSE, JIS REGIONAL OFFICE