Educators in meeting discussing tsunami exercise evaluation report.
Photo courtesy of DDM
Thursday, March 31– As a follow up to the National Earthquake and Tsunami Full Scale Simulation Exercise held last week the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) in conjunction with the Education Department held a debriefing meeting for schools yesterday at the DDM’s headquarters at MacNamara to review the evaluation reports.
Training Officer, Carishma Hicks said, “This meeting provided a forum for the 27 schools that participated, to review the evaluation reports, highlight areas of success, examine overall performance, identify major concerns and best practices and to determine ways in which to address any shortcomings documented.”
Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcia Potter in her remarks to teachers and school administrators said, “The tsunami simulation exercise held recently was an excellent opportunity for schools to test their plans and procedures. I am very proud of the response of all the schools. We have been receiving numerous calls from parents who are interested in obtaining information about disaster preparedness and planning. This is exactly the feedback we wanted as we are desirous of ensuring that parents are aware of the need to partner with schools in addressing these very important matters.” Dr. Potter also expressed that there is room for improvement and pledged her commitment to addressing issues that arose at the meeting.
In her concluding statement Dr. Potter said, “Principals must commit to ensuring that their contingency plans are completed and approved by the DDM. It was good to have this meeting with educators to determine areas that need to be addressed as it relates to school disaster preparedness. The Ministry and Department of Education are committed to working with the DDM in ensuring safety within all schools. This is of utmost importance for the Minister of Education and Culture.”
In addition to the work continuing with schools, the DDM is expected to obtain tsunami hazards maps and models by year end which will define inundation levels, based on bathometric data. This initiative, managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by the European Union (EU) under the R3i Project, will allow for identification or emergency evacuation routes as well as the extent of the tsunami risk posed to coastal communities. There are also plans to increase earthquake and tsunami preparedness efforts and to work very closely with the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) to ensure the continued testing and development of emergency communications, alert and warning systems in the Territory.
A meeting has already been held with Innovative Solutions, the new owners of BVI Cable TV to re-activate the video component of the NEBS to allow for emergency information to be broadcast on all cable channels. The owners have committed to working with the DDM to advance this aspect and to ensure that Cable TV viewers have access to emergency information at any time.
There are several other initiatives planned between the DDM and the Department of Education including the development of a school safety policy and framework which will allow for annual inspections of all schools and monitoring and maintenance of systems and mechanisms for addressing issues related to safety and disaster preparedness.
The DDM is in the process of producing a video on the exercise which is expected to be broadcast next week on JTV Channel 55, CBN Channel 51 and HLSCC Channel 52. The broadcast schedule can be viewed on the DDM website at www.bviddm.com.
The Department of Disaster Management is committed to ensuring that the simulation exercises continue to allow for testing and improvement for the Territory’s disaster preparedness planning.