The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) has been moving swiftly ahead with preparations for this year’s hurricane season which officially begins on June 1.
So far, several training sessions and workshops have been completed with members of staff and volunteers from the 17 disaster districts and meetings held with various agencies on their preparedness for the season.
During the workshops with staff, individuals reviewed a number of plans and policies to include a Model National Relief Management Policy and Plan and a Logistics Policy and Plan to ensure that challenging issues can be adequately addressed like the donation and distribution of relief items.
The volunteer training focused on Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) – (pronounced sert), and covered areas such as basic first-aid, telecommunications, basic search and rescue, basic map reading and fire safety. Training will also be done with community volunteers in damage assessment. Presently, this process is paper-based and NODS is hoping to have this done electronically following a training session with select staff members.
The national search and rescue unit was also recently certified to the standards of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) – (pronounced in-sa-rag).
Efforts are also underway to provide disaster districts with community storage units called Bokomi (bucko-me) stations that are equipped with emergency supplies for use in the various districts. One of these units has since been sent to Barbuda.
With regard to public shelters, the Public Works Department has completed its inspection of the various buildings and the list will be published shortly. NODS has also been assessing these facilities to ensure that hand-washing stations are available and will provide cleaning kits to the disaster coordinators.
On the aspect of telecommunications, NODS has acquired a number of VHF Radios, satellite phones and other internet and satellite-based equipment to enhance its ability to communicate locally, with the sister-isle Barbuda and also abroad.