March 28, 20121145Views

Wednesday, March 28 Today the Virgin Islands
joined other localities in the Northwest Atlantic as a participant in LANTEX ’12,
an earthquake and tsunami response exercise, that has been held annually since

This year’s exercise
focused on testing the national alert and broadcasting system as well as the
preparedness level. The exercise provided a simulated tsunami warning, watch
and advisory messages from the West Coast Alaska Tsunami Warning Centre (WCATWC)
and the Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN) based on a magnitude 7.7 earthquake
that caused a large underwater landslide located SE of Myrtle Beach, North
Carolina.  As a result of this hazard
impact a Tsunami warning was issued at 10:36 am.

This exercise provided an
opportunity for individuals and organisations to test their plans and
procedures, operational lines of communications and to promote
earthquake/tsunami awareness and preparedness.

Training Officer at the DDM, Carishma Hicks said, “We have been
planning this exercise for the past two months and it was our intention to test
all national alert and broadcast systems, evaluate the preparedness levels of
the public and private businesses and the Territory on a whole.  We also evaluated how the Royal Virgin
Islands Police Force would secure key government officials who would be needed
in the response and recovery phases. These exercises are especially important
as they help to identify weaknesses in plans and procedures.”

As part of the
exercise the DDM sounded the seven siren units located throughout the Territory.
The National Emergency Broadcast System was activated and allowed for a test
message to be sent simultaneously from the National Emergency Operations Centre
to ZROD, ZBVI, ZKING and ZCCR and Cable TV Channel 51.  In addition, 52 Smart radios located in
schools, clinics, national parks posts, police and fire stations were activated
providing a warning tone and a message which was designed to trigger an
evacuation of these facilities.  The DDM
also utilised its VHF and HF radio frequencies to send information to over 100
stations monitoring the network and to boaters listening on channel 16. Contact
was also made with regional partners including the PRSN.

Ms. Hicks
further said, “We were pleased with the response from those that participated
in this year’s exercise. Evaluators were strategically positioned to record
their actions that will help in providing advice on how plans and procedures
can be improved. We were especially pleased that the Sunsail, Foot Loose and
The Moorings participated and responded in keeping with procedures, recommended
for this type of event, however, far too many businesses are not taking
advantage of this life-saving tool.”

The DDM wishes to convey
thanks to all agencies, both Government and Private Sector that participated in
this year’s exercise. We wish to especially thank the many volunteers who
assisted the Department both in the planning and execution phases. The LANTEX
Exercise was carried out Territory-wide to include the Sister Islands as well
as the boating community

The Department is encouraging the public to
provide feedback on the exercise by logging on to DDM’s website at and completing the public
opinion survey. This information will be collated and used to assist the
Department and other agencies in improving their alert and response