A call for Barbados to conduct frequent exercises to strengthen its emergency response system and its ability to respond to disasters has not gone unnoticed.
In fact, one of the main recommendations from volunteers and persons making up the national emergency management system at the conclusion of the Barbados leg of Exercise TRADEWINDS 2017 is for the continuous testing of the island’s systems.
This was highlighted by Director of the Combined Exercise Control Group (CECG) for Exercise TRADEWINDS 2017, Major Carlos Lovell, on the sidelines of a cultural day for the participating military troops, at Harrison’s Cave yesterday.
Noting that discussion was already under way with Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds, he acknowledged: “One of the lessons learned from TRADEWINDS is that we cannot just do one exercise every five years, or every three years, and believe that that we will be ready should the worse come to the worst and we are struck by or impacted by a natural hazard.”
Describing the Barbados leg as a “resounding success”, Major Lovell explained that this year’s exercise used a new model which was more inclusive and tested a number of different areas of command and tactical procedures, and brought the entire country together.
He said officials were considering using a similar model to conduct more frequent exercises across the country to test different levels of command and management before culminating with one large exercise similar to that of Exercise TRADEWINDS.
“TRADEWINDS has shown us that we need to be prepared; TRADEWINDS has shown us that we can’t rest on our laurels and believe that the capabilities that we have are sufficient to deal with any challenge or any issue that we may be faced with. It has shown us that we need to practise our skills, our craft a lot more in the national emergency management system and with those persons who are involved in supporting the national emergency management system,” the CECG Director stated.
He pointed out that such exercises should not be done once and not again for another two to three years. “We need to keep practising because a lot of the skills that were employed during TRADEWINDS are perishable skills and a lot of scenario-based issues….What happened during TRADEWINDS is not all encompassing, there are so many issues that could have happened and I believe that we need to exercise as many of them as possible and bring the training audience together, so that they can get their minds wrapped around the different challenges they may be faced with during a disaster,” he emphasised.
Major Lovell also stressed that the skills and capacities developed during the exercise needed to be maintained, so that the capacities built during Exercise TRADEWINDS would not be lost.
The second leg of Exercise TRADEWINDS 2017 continues in Trinidad and Tobago under the theme: A Seamless States Partnership for a Secure Region. It officially concludes on Saturday, June 17.