District officers from the Sister Islands are participating in a one day course at the Department of Disaster Management aimed at building capacity in the area of emergency communications.
Sister Islands Programme Coordinator, Mr. Vincent Wheatley said the training of the officers is part of the Government’s efforts to ensure that they are provided with the required training and knowledge to assist in emergency preparedness and response activities when called upon to do so.
Mr. Wheatley further explained, “Disaster management is very critical and requires greater support at the community level in order to build resiliency. District officers play an important role in these efforts and as such must understand the risks posed to the islands they serve and know how to respond and utilise resources during times of emergencies.”
The training initiative was organised to strengthen the skills of these individuals in the role that they play in supporting disaster management services at the island level. As part of their job, the district officers assigned for Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda and Anegada are required to assist with the implementation of community-based activities that help to create awareness among the population. They also support training and monitoring activities to ensure that issues at the island level are brought to the attention of the Sister Islands Programme Coordinator and the Department of Disaster Management and that these are addressed in keeping with the local environment.
Emergency Communications Officer, Mr. Jasen Penn facilitated the training programme. He said that over the years the Sister Islands of Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda have been fully equipped with hazard monitoring, alerting and notification system. This, he said, is important in the event of a national or island level emergency. He said communities can become isolated and measures will have to be put in place to notify their population and communicate with national authorities.
Mr. Penn added, “A variety of emergency communications equipment such as VHF radios, satellite phones and smart radios has been provided to the district offices on the Sister Islands. This ensures that the district officers are able to efficiently operate this equipment and know how to activate the local warning systems installed throughout the islands. The officers were also made aware of the various protocols that will be used to alert and notify communities and how these can be used to support their role as island coordinators.”
The community level Early Warning Systems available on the Sister Islands are built to ensure that the areas risk knowledge, monitoring, response capability and warning communication are addressed and that the district officers are fully involved in all aspects.
Risk knowledge develops the baseline understanding about the hazards and vulnerabilities faced by a community. Monitoring allows for up-to-date data and information collection on how the community level vulnerabilities are changing through time. Response capability insists on each level being able to reduce risk once trends are identified and warning communication allows for actionable messages to be delivered to residents thereby allowing them to act promptly.