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ODPM: Gap in Dark Wave response

By Verdel Bishop

There have been gaps in the quick responses to Exercise Dark Wave 2014, an emergency training exercise which was carried over the last 48 hours to test Trinidad and Tobago’s response to an earthquake and a tsunami. These are known as Level 3 disasters.

The national emergency exercise took place between 10 p.m. on Tuesday and 10 a.m. yesterday. 

At a closing media brief yesterday on the emergency drill at Government Information Services Limited (GISL) Conference Room, TIC Building, Lady Young Road in Morvant, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) chief executive officer, Dr Stephen Ramroop said some degree of limitations were to be expected. 

“We are still awaiting evaluation to come in but clearly there was a gap in the response and we expect that one of the things is, that we don’t want to have unrealistic expectations. In any major event there is a gap between the time that emergency response is alerted and that is the gap that we are working with; that gap is called the golden hour and that is the time when capacity is extremely important to the persons who are around the area. 

“Help will come but our aim is to reduce the time in which help comes and that is what we have to build as part of our early-warning system. So part of the findings of this exercise would be the need to have a stronger lobby for the Government to implement a national early-warning and public-warning information system. We have a proposal before the Government for that system which is evidence based and hopefully the evidence coming out of this drill will allow for improvement between early-warning signal and response,” Ramroop said. 

Andy Johnson, chief executive officer and GISL director of information with the Information Task Group, said Exercise Dark Wave 2014 was conducted to test and enhance the nation’s response to a Level 3 disaster.  

“The Information Task Group relies on resources of GISL to be able to get information to the population in Trinidad and Tobago, to the media and to necessary stakeholders. 

“This is the first time that the capacity of this national-crisis communication mechanism was tested and it was an opportunity to realise there are areas where we have to focus to provide some improvement. 

“It is important that the media is a critical credible single space to obtain information in crisis and GISL is working towards being that place that provides the information with efficiency and effectiveness. 

“In a crisis especially the one that we simulated, good communication is always vital to public safety and GISL was able to test its (in)operability with other media agencies and we continue towards what we hope will be a seamless transition to crisis response whenever that becomes necessary,” Johnson said. 

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