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INCREASED PRIVATE SECTOR INTEREST IN THIS YEAR’S TSUNAMI EXERCISE

INCREASED PRIVATE SECTOR INTEREST IN THIS YEAR’S TSUNAMI EXERCISE

March 26, 2015940Views

Thursday, March 26 – Over 4,200 persons
from the public and private sector participated in this year’s national tsunami
exercise, Caribe Wave Lantex 15.

This year’s scenario was based on a magnitude 8.5
earthquake occurring north of Panama. The exercise commenced at 10:05 am on
March 25 and concluded just after midday with participation of persons on
Anegda, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola and Virgin Gorda.  The exercise was designed to allow for
testing of the national emergency broadcast and alert system and to evaluate
the newly revised tsunami protocols which provide guidance to the Royal Virgin
Islands Police Force and the Department of Disaster Management in handling
response operations for this type of hazard impact. 

The exercise ensured that persons were aware of and
can reach the designated tsunami safe location points and afforded public and
private sector organizations, including educational facilities, an opportunity to
test their emergency plans and procedures.

Training Officer of the Department of Disaster
Management and Exercise Coordinator Ms. Carishma Hicks was very pleased with
the level of participation this year and indicated that there was more participation
from the financial sector than she had seen in previous years.   

She said, “This year, we received an increased number
of calls from the private sector, in particular trust companies and banks. We
had many new companies registered this year and this is an indication that we
are making good strides in improving the level of preparedness and awareness in
this very important sector”.

 

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March 26, 2014

 

Ms. Hicks added, “We must also acknowledge the
outstanding performance we saw today from the public sector, the District
Officers on the Sister Islands and the schools that participated.  The majority of the participants and students
made it all the way to the assembly points and followed their procedures very
closely. 

The Training Officer stated that partnership with the
Ministry of Education and Culture has allowed the department to significantly increase
the number of schools with plans that are tested through drills and
exercises. 

She said, “Today we saw some very creative techniques
being applied by some schools to get their children to the safe location points.  It was also evident that some schools have
been practicing their plans because their actions were synchronized and they were
well prepared to respond”.

The tsunami simulation exercise, staged annually, is
an international initiative with participation from the Caribbean as well as
Central and North America. Each year, a different scenario is used to test the
level of national response to these types of events. During the debrief meeting
that was held following the exercise, the evaluators provided detailed
information that can now be used by the department to further engage the
entities that participated.  This meeting
revealed that additional work is needed specifically with small businesses to
ensure that they have procedures in place to safeguard their staff and
investments. It was also outlined that with the increased development in the
Craft Alive Village, plans need to be developed for the users of the facilities
to ensure that they are adequately able to protect themselves, considering
their close proximity to the coast.

The debrief meeting further revealed the power of the
national alert and broadcast system that allowed for messages to be received in
various forms within minutes.  The public
was able to receive alerts and messages via cell providers, radio, television
station CBN Channel 51, siren network, RDS radios located in schools and other
critical facilities, VHF and Marine radio, email, social media and from the DDM
website.   

Over 130,000 people from the Caribbean and adjacent
region registered to participate in the CARIBEWAVE/LANTEX15 exercise.  Historical records show that between 1610 BC
to AD 2014, there have been 1212 confirmed tsunamis, of which 245 have been
deadly.