The aim of the exercise was to test the preparedness of the country’s National Response Framework when impacted by natural hazards. ODPM Chief Executive Officer Dr Stephen Ramroop told Newsday this was the first year they got Cabinet approval to have such a massive exercise.
He said there were 1600 participants in yesterday’s exercise which included members of civil society and private and public sector agencies where different drills and table top exercises were conducted across the country. The Anglican Church also participated by ringing their bells at 10 am.
“The churches rang their bells, which is an old fashioned warning system. Having the social and religious network integrated in disaster management is very important,” he said. In Tobago, a drill simulating a hurricane approaching the island was also conducted.
Ramroop said the ODPM wanted to dedicate a day for the country to have an exercise in an effort to prepare citizens for any disaster.
“We don’t get so many impacts so when we do we might not be fully prepared and we have to figure out how do we get participation from the entire country because when a major disaster occurs it’s a whole countryside effort. With this exercise we will gauge what is the national response and how many communities we can engage,” he explained. “It will also give us an idea on how we spend money because 20 to 30 percent of our budget is spent in public education, printing booklets and training so this exercise is going to give us a good indication,” he added Of the exercises conducted as of 3 pm yesterday, Ramroop said the ODPM received favourable responses.
He admitted there were challenges with communication between intra and inter agencies.
The ODPM will review yesterday’s exercise and will reveal the findings at a press conference on August 15.