More Barbadians are using social media platforms to remain up to date on matters pertaining to natural disasters and emergency management, according to Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Kerry Hinds.
“We have seen an uptick in terms of people going onto our social media channels. As you push the information out there, people are picking it up,” she said.
“This year, there has been an increase in earthquakes in the region so people are coming on our websites to look at that, and during the hurricane season they call, go on the websites, etcetera.”
Hinds noted that the DEM has a pervasive public awareness programme in schools and communities, and people were asking for training sessions on hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes, not only from her agency but from the District Emergency Organizations as well.
Next month, the DEM will again be promoting tsunami awareness, and at least one of its efforts will form part of the We Gatherin’ celebrations in St Thomas.
“March is our Tsunami, Earthquake and Coastal Hazards Awareness Month and there will be a number of activities on the calendar, starting with our social media launch outlining what the month will be about. We have a National Earthquake Preparedness Day on March 6, and on March 8 we are partnering with We Gatherin’ St Thomas for a movie night, during which we will look at tsunami and earthquake hazards. On the 19th we have an exercise testing responses to earthquakes and tsunamis, while on March 29 we have a 5k tsunami run and walk, which is a blend of health and wellness and teaches you the escape routes if you are on the coast when a tsunami occurs.”
The DEM Director added that a new area for her department this year will be disaster preparedness within the cultural heritage sector.
“This is a regional exercise sponsored by UNESCO and CDEMA [the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency], and it is part of our effort to carry out disaster management training and building resilience in various sectors so they can build capacity. The tourism sector is a traditional partner of ours and they are planning to run a symposium encouraging people in the sector to improve their ability to put together disaster management procedures, thereby preparing them for any eventuality.”
Hinds’ comments came shortly after she addressed the DEM’s first workshop for the year aimed at building emergency management capacity within the public service.
As she addressed the public servants who were drawn from several government departments and ministries, she told them they were expected to champion their various programmes.
“We are here to support you through this process, because you have to go back and put together teams to ensure the process is a successful one. Coming out of these workshops, we hope to see some comprehensive programmes and plans being developed from the various ministries and departments as legally mandated within our Emergency Management Act,” she told those gathered at the DEM’s Baobab Towers office.