Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson speaking during today’s Eighth Meeting of the Emergency Management Advisory Council (EMAC) at Baobab Tower while Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance, William Duguid looks on. (GP)

New emergency management policy considerations within the context of the national state of readiness are high on the agenda for Barbados.

This was one of the items down for discussion during today’s Eighth Meeting of the Emergency Management Advisory Council (EMAC), chaired by Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, at Baobab Tower, Warrens, St. Michael.

Speaking during a short opening ceremony, Mr. Hinkson said stakeholders will also receive, deliberate on, and endorse the Department of Emergency Management’s (DEM) 2017 annual report; the DEM’s Strategic Plan 2019 to 2023; the National Exercise Concept for 2019/2020 series of national-level exercise, and the Comprehensive Disaster Management Country Work Programme 2019 to 2023.

“The dialogue, at the levels of the Emergency Management Advisory Council, is of great importance in our country’s quest to becoming disaster resilient,” Mr. Hinkson said.

Reflecting on the events, challenges and lessons learnt from the 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons, Mr. Hinkson stressed that recent patterns demand that Barbados adopts a policy of strategic and pre-emptive action in its preparation efforts.

He noted that the island had already commenced preparations for the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, with an upgrade of school hurricane shelters, and a greater national storage capacity for generators, pumps, water, food and medicine supplies.

In addition, the Minister said the relevant ministries were also working towards debushing and cleaning flood prone areas. “Government is acutely aware of the need to strengthen the capacity of our country to not only manage risks, but deal with hazards,” he said.

Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Deborah Payne and Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson at yesterday’s Eighth Meeting of the Emergency Management Advisory Council (EMAC) at Baobab Tower. (GP)

While stressing the importance for EMAC stakeholders to fully embrace their roles in the pursuit of national resilience, Mr. Hinkson reminded the public that they too were “vested stakeholders in the whole enterprise”.

“You should recognize that you have a personal responsibility to yourselves, your families and your immediate surroundings.  Everyone needs to make sure that their individual properties are cleared of debris and that the drains in their neighbourhoods are cleared to allow water to run off freely during and after heavy rains,” Mr. Hinkson advised.

He added that protecting oneself during a hazard event required planning through various measures, including having adequate home insurance and emergency supplies on hand.

The Minister further encouraged persons to join the District Emergency Management Organization in their area; see disaster management as their business; and play their part in the effort.

EMAC was established on July 11, 2012, to provide oversight to the National Emergency Management System by recommending policies, programmes and activities to enhance the emergency management programme; review the work of committees of the Council and any other function assigned by the Minister.

It comprises a range of stakeholders, including those from the DEM, the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Barbados Defence Force, the Barbados Fire Service, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the Ministry of People Empowerment, and the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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