Officials will carry out an exercise to test the Territory’s ability to respond to an event that involves rescuing a large number of persons with injuries on November 13 and 14.
Key stakeholders will participate in the exercise designed to test and strengthen the Virgin Islands’ capacity to respond to mass rescue maritime incident. Participating agencies include all the entities that would respond in the event of a mass rescue at sea including the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the BVI Ports Authority, the BVI Health Services Authority, VISAR and the Department of Disaster Management (DDM).
Police Commissioner Michael Matthews, who would act as Incident Commander in an actual mass rescue operation, said the exercise will help the Territory improve its existing mass rescue plan.
Police Commissioner Matthews said, “I’m pleased that so many different agencies will be participating in this exercise, as good coordination between different responders is key to building an effective and efficient response to any incident. The BVI has strong plans in place for different emergencies including incidents with large numbers of injuries, but testing these plans with the police and other agencies who would respond to such an event is crucial. This exercise will allow us to fully evaluate our plan, which means we will identify any gaps or challenges with it now so that, if the worst were to happen, we know that we can protect the lives of BVI residents and visitors.”
Exercise activities will begin on Wednesday, November 13 with facilitators from the US Coast Guard, the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and the DDM providing an overview for participants to cover the BVI’s disaster management system and established mass rescue protocols. On Thursday November 14, participants will move between the Tortola Pier Park and the exercise staging area at the Multi-purpose Sports Complex.
The exercise will also help the Territory comply with International Maritime Organisation Implementation of IMO Instruments Code or III Code, which will allow the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry to maintain its status as a Category 1 jurisdiction. Previous tabletop and functional exercises were held in 2013, 2016 and earlier this year.