Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Kerry Hinds, has issued a call for more persons to get involved and volunteer within their communities.
She made this call during the Department’s inaugural Volunteer Recognition Ceremony at Sky Mall over the holiday period, during which the work of District Emergency Organisations (DEOs) was recognised.
“I encourage you when you profile the community…to make a concerted effort to target the younger persons, persons with expertise, persons with creative concepts and a love for giving back to the community.
“I am certain that there is tremendous latent potential still in our communities that is currently untapped. I challenge you to seek it out and welcome a friend, a stranger, a co-worker to join with you, as we continue to make invaluable contributions of service,” Ms. Hinds told those present.
She explained that the DEOs were an integral part of DEM’s Community Disaster Management programme, which was designed to empower communities across Barbados to be more knowledgeable about all types of hazards. In addition, she said they were also required to ensure that communities knew how to respond effectively to emergencies or disasters which may occur.
The Director described volunteers, such as the DEOs, as being “invaluable in assisting with the response and rebuilding efforts, and energising our sensitisation campaigns”. She added that effective disaster management community structures and resource mobilisation efforts were critical to the success of the programme.
Ms. Hinds noted that the DEM, throughout the years, provided ongoing technical assistance, inclusive of training and development of volunteers in community-based organisations in the areas of basic disaster management, telecommunications, shelter management, damage assessment and needs analysis, mass casualty training, plan development training and exercising the community.
“We have also provided some equipment to the community emergency response units, as well as practical tools/toolkits and technical advice, all aimed at enhancing capacity at the community level,” she said.
However, she called on DEO members to increase their engagement with persons in the community, particularly the youth, businesses, churches and those on the block, to promote the value added of being a volunteer, and boost their work.
“Our ultimate goal is to not only ensure that the members of the community are better prepared and well-equipped to deal with emergencies and disasters, cultivate a culture of safety in this country, and reach every individual with our message, but that while we do what we do that we showcase that real sense of community. This would essentially contribute to true national preparedness and readiness,” Ms. Hinds stressed.
During the event, the St. George North, St. James Central and St. Peter DEOs were recognised for their participation in Vulnerable Impact Assessments conducted throughout the year, and their response to the disaster in Dominica. In addition, Chairman of the City of Bridgetown DEO, Samuel Holder, received the Director’s Award for longstanding service.
Meanwhile, the Barbados Citizens Band Radio Association and the Roving Response Team were recognised for their dedication, commitment and service to Barbados.