Barbados today created history with the inauguration of an Emergency Management Advisory Council, to provide strategic oversight of the national emergency management system.
Deputy Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds, informed stakeholders at the event at Hilton Barbados Resort this morning, that the emergency management system was made up of a number of committees and mechanisms, which included the council as the strategic oversight body. The council is headed by the Minister of Home Affairs as the ex-officio chairman. Hinds said members were appointed by nomination by the same minister, including the ultimate chairman, who is the Minister of Housing and Lands.
She revealed that the council was made up of 15 other representatives from various entities within the emergency management system. The Director of Emergency Management will perform the duties of secretary. The functions of the council include recommending policies, programmes and activities to enhance the emergency management system, and reviewing the work of the 15 standing committees of the council with respect to specialised areas.
It will also recommend and develop regulations to guide the Emergency Management Act, review and approve the annual report of activities of the DEM for forwarding to the minister, who should make copies available to Parliament.
Hinds said the annual report would include an emergency management policy review.
“On an annual basis, the council would identify no more than five national comprehensive disaster management awardees who have significantly contributed to the advancement of national disaster management. They would review and recommend for Cabinet’s approval, draft emergency management policies and plans developed by the standing committees, and these include a wide repertoire of plans, policies and procedures,” announced the DEM officer.
The island’s national disaster management plan, mass crowd policy and plan and the emergency shelter management policy all fall under the ambit of the new council. Its mandate also includes oversight of the national bio-hazard response plan. Hind assured the council members that they would have a lot of work to do.
It is also expected that the council, in consultation with the director of emergency management, establish other committees and sub-committees, charged with particular responsibilities, defined by geographical area or otherwise in relation to response to emergencies and disasters in Barbados.
The council members, who also included the commissioner of police, chief of staff of the Barbados Defence Force, chief fire officer and chief medical officer, were given their instruments of appointment by the Minister of Home Affairs today.
Director of the DEM Judy Thomas was meanwhile presented with a Ministerial Award for her exceptional contribution to emergency management in Barbados and the Caribbean. Awards were also given to Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, retired meteorologist, Chester Layne, retired Deputy Director of the former Central Emergency Relief Organisation, Clive Lorde and Director of the Government Statistical Service, Angela Hunte. (EJ)††