Over 500 locals trained in various disaster risk reduction skills in 2023, National Disaster Coordinator reports

Acting National Disaster Coordinator Janelle Garraway-McPherson

Ensuring adherence to the National Disaster Plan’s mandate and strategy, the Office of Disaster Management (ODM), Dominica’s coordinating agency for comprehensive disaster management, has initiated training and capacity development programs at the district level. Acting National Disaster Coordinator Janelle Garraway-McPherson explained that the goal is to provide annual training to community members in updated Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Support Skills and Practices.

During the Ministry of National Security’s year-end press conference held earlier today, it was highlighted that the training and public engagement activities for 2023 reached a total of 186 sessions in Emergency Communications. As part of some of these district training, VHF-based radios and antennas were installed. Two hundred and twenty-three individuals received training in Emergency Shelter Management, while 32 underwent Damage Assessment training in the Kalinago Territory and Castle Bruce area.

Additionally, 33 participants were involved in an Introduction to Disaster Management for Caregivers in the Kalinago Territory, with 20 individuals trained in Emergency Operation Center and Warehouse Management, and 24 in the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) logistics systems.

Another 20 individuals were trained in geospatial information, data, and management, along with information management for emergency response. Garraway-McPherson highlighted that 22 community outreach sessions were held in several villages including Kalinago Territory, Castle Bruce to Petit Soufrière, Grand Fond to Delices, Bellevue
Chopin to Bagatelle, Grand Bay and Tete Morne.

In the same vein, 24 school visits and 16 weekly radio programs featuring tabletop exercise activities—a simulation where key personnel assigned emergency management roles discuss various simulated emergencies and planned their responses—were conducted throughout 2023 with the support of IsraAID.

On June 16, 2023, a tabletop exercise took place at the Castle Bruce Regional Emergency Resource Center, evaluating the evacuation process from Petit Soufrière, San Souviere, and Good Hope to the Regional Emergency Shelter at Castle Bruce.

Similarly, on December 8, 2023, a comparable tabletop exercise occurred at the Pierre Charles Secondary School, focusing on Bagatelle, Grand Bay, Tete Morne, and the surrounding environment. As affirmed by the National Disaster Coordinator, key stakeholders from these pertinent localities actively participated, including parliamentary  representatives of the respective communities, police and fire representatives, health teams, district disaster management teams, chairpersons, community members, local government, village councils, community monitor emergency response teams, and the general public.

“These exercises tested the preparedness and response of community-level emergency response systems, first responders, stakeholders, community groups, and the public,” she stated.

Moreover, the ODM collaborated with the Portsmouth Town Council, first responders, as well as international and regional agencies for a simulation exercise on December 13, 2023, as part of the tsunami-ready recognition program. Before the event, community engagements were conducted to raise awareness about earthquakes and tsunamis.

In the upcoming year, she highlights further progress in the following areas such as the installation and enhancement of the National Seismic Monitoring Network, including the integration of a real-time thermographic camera for continuous monitoring of the Boiling Lake. This collaborative initiative involves a partnership with the National
Authorizing Office for the EU.

Furthermore, there are plans to update the National Disaster Plan, with support from the Connecting Communities for Climate and Disaster Risk Preparedness Initiative in Dominica. Additionally, there will be a thorough review of the Comprehensive Disaster Management Bill, facilitated by the policy and regulatory reform under the Resilience
Project. This legislation aims to establish a framework for comprehensive disaster management and the effective handling of emergencies in Dominica, along with addressing other related matters.

Closing her address, Mrs. Garraway-Mcpherson earnestly urged the public to integrate preparedness into their daily lives. She emphasized that while advanced warnings are possible for storms or hurricanes, unforeseen events like earthquakes can occur at any moment.

“Preparedness begins with each individual person,” she stressed. “Create family emergency plans. Prepare go-bags, have on hand at least three days’ supply of food, water, and unnecessary supplies.”

“Do you know where your emergency shelter is located? Always be alert to your surroundings. keep updated with credible sources of information. Go out and volunteer in your communities to prepare, mitigate, and respond to emergencies. Have a willing and cooperative spirit and be respectful of others. We have an individual responsibility
to keep safe,” she added.

Considering these points, the national coordinator appealed to the public to enhance their knowledge of disaster preparedness and awareness. She asserted that the nation’s resilience hinges on the preparedness and fortitude of each individual, family, and community.

As highlighted, the ODM is committed to informing and educating the public through collaborative efforts with stakeholders, utilizing various media channels such as their website at odm.gov.dm, along with their Facebook page.

Additionally, their weekly program on DBS radio airs on Tuesday mornings from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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  1. If we knew better
    February 2, 2024

    but yet, everyday we see impeding disaster WAITING to happen. and not even the Public works division does a damn thing about them. I mean unless these sorts of training is only for reactionary measures and not preventative. one disaster waiting to happen is the falling road just after Bath Estate going up into the valley. Tarou cliff and coulibistrie, antrim..i could go on and on.

  2. out of south city
    January 31, 2024

    Locals? Whose terminology is this and why do we still use that word?

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