11 January – Today the Department
of Disaster Management (DDM) hosted a simulation exercise to evaluate standardised
procedures and guidelines for managing incidents involving cruise ships and
other large marine passenger vessels.
The Exercise code name
“Operation: Tropic Hit” surrounded the scenario of a cruise vessel in
distress with over one hundred passengers on board that were sick or injured
and needed to disembark the vessel for further evaluation or treatment.
The scenario tested the recently
drafted procedures for managing cruise disasters and evaluated the Territory’s
emergency response and interagency communication in response to such a
Consultant Mr. Paul Saunders, a
Disaster Risk Management Specialist at DHP Caribbean Ltd. in Trinidad and
Tobago, facilitated the exercise which also served to examine the use of the
incident command system, local support available to impacted vessels, border
control, managing environmental impacts, communication, handling the media and
management of external assistance.
Prior to the exercise Mr. Saunders
said, “This exercise will not only further train the emergency responders and
test their plans, but will serve to bring greater awareness to the marine
community towards the need for developing and testing their emergency plans as
well.” He continued by saying,” This exercise is part of an initiative to
ensure that adequate plans and procedures are in place to address all possible
hazards that can impact the Territory and that the critical resources are
available to ensure that there is a good response.”
Among the evaluators and numerous
participants were two (2) overseas observers. Superintendent Elliott Forbes of
the Royal Anguilla Police Force and Ms. Melissa Meade, Director of Anguilla’s
Department of Disaster Management who observed the entire exercise with the
intention of conducting a similar exercise in Anguilla during the coming
In her comments about the exercise Ms.
Meade stated, “After witnessing this exercise, I am now very excited to go back
to Anguilla and to ensure that the appropriate procedures and guidelines
involving pleasure yachts and large scale passenger marine vessels transiting
our waters are developed and implemented. We too have identified that we may
not be able to prevent an incident from occurring but with combined efforts and
a high level of preparedness will aid in averting a catastrophe.”
After the exercise, a debriefing was
held at the conference room at the DDM between all agencies that participated
for further evaluation and discussion.
The DDM greatly appreciates the input
from the forty (40) persons who served as volunteers for this exercise. Feedback
and comments from the public concerning this exercise are welcomed. Please log
on to www.bviddm.com to complete Tropic Hit Survey.
This exercise came out of a project in
2012 which developed standardised procedures and guidelines for managing
incidents involving large marine vessels. Funding for its development came from the
Comprehensive Disaster Management Harmonization Implementation (CDM HIP)
Programme which is implemented by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Agency
(CDEMA) and various donor partners including UKAID from the Department of
International Development; and financial support for the exercise was provided
for under the Government of Italy’s “Enhancing Resilience to Reduce
Vulnerability in the Caribbean Region” project.