A section of representatives of District Emergency Organisations who participated in a one-day workshop organised by the Department of Emergency Management last Saturday, at The St.Michael School.??

If we are to successfully manage disaster preparedness, then there must be a community-based approach.

This was underscored by acting Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, last Saturday, as he delivered the feature address at a one-day training workshop for District Emergency Organisations (DEOs). It was held at the St. Michael School.

He said: "Over the past eight months of this year, we’ve come face to face with several types of disasters across the world. The year started as we know with the disaster in Haiti, which not only impacted Haiti, but us as a region.

??"The important lesson for us is the way that these events have overwhelmed the capacity of respective governments to manage and effectively respond to their populations and depend upon international intervention. It, therefore, underscores the importance of a community-based response mechanism like the District Emergency Organisations to play that vital role of harnessing the human and field resources to assist the national effort, as well as to provide support for the regional and international response," Mr. Brathwaite surmised.

The acting Minister of Home Affairs stated that DEOs have a vital role in the emergency management system of Barbados. In light of this, he added the Department of Emergency Management had taken steps to reform the community disaster management programme, and the District Emergency Management Organisations.

In addition, Mr. Brathwaite disclosed that there are plans to reactivate the National Council of District Emergency Organisations to provide oversight to the management of the programme at the community level, as well as to forge greater relationships with the Constituency Councils.

The acting Minister of Home Affairs encouraged the participants to work toward the greater good of the country and its people and to be free of any biases, political or otherwise. "Your function is to ensure that if there is a disaster in Barbados that you will respond to help all Barbadians…don’t see colour; don’t see party… and [ensure] that the response is the best one possible given the resources that are available," he emphasised.

Mr. Brathwaite observed that having survived four hurricanes himself, he was extremely conscious hurricane preparedness and asked the participants to continue their work for the benefit of the nation.

In her address, Director of Emergency Services, Judy Thomas, said the workshop was initiated by the DEO’s and was part of a process to provide continuous training to personnel, particularly in the area of community coordination and national preparedness.

Participants received training?? in the areas of Damage Assessment and Decision Making, the Emergency Operations Centre and DEO Operations, the tsunami project, and practiced a number of table-top exercises.??clashley@barbados.gov.bb

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