Members of the District Emergency Organisation (DEO) for the City of Bridgetown are ramping up their disaster preparedness with the acquisition of two Grab and Go kits. Each kit contains a VHF radio, battery, power supply and is totally equipped with an outside antenna and a solar panel to charge the battery.
This equipment which facilitates communication during a disaster was presented to the group by the Minister of State in the Office of the Attorney General with responsibility for Crime Prevention and Parliamentary Representative for the City of Bridgetown, Corey Lane. The handing over of the pivotal equipment to representatives of the newly activated DEO took place on Saturday evening at the Barbados Citizen Band Radio Association’s Nursery Drive location when the organisation hosted a post Valentine’s Day celebration for its members.
President of the organisation Randy Chandler indicated that after a meeting with telecommunications personnel from a host of government departments, the question was posed if any provisions were made for earthquakes. He noted, “Everybody was silent because we never planned for earthquakes. We have storms and hurricanes, and all of those types of things, but an earthquake is something that does not give any warnings, like a storm or hurricane.” In the absence of the contingency plan, a meeting was convened with its members to discuss the issue and the decision was made to create the kits.
Minister Lane’s curiosity was peaked when he saw the radios at a training session conducted by the association. He sourced the necessary equipment and the technical team from the Barbados Citizen Band Association constructed the kits. Chandler stated, “We have several prominent, competent persons in the club that do these things. I am happy that we were able to get them together.”
Chandler believes that the donation is timely with the increase in seismic activity worldwide. He highlighted there have been recent tremors in nearby St. Kitts and Nevis, noting, “We never know if that is the prelude to the big one, since we are expecting at any time a long overdue eight mega earthquake for the area.”
The equipment in the kits is technical and training will be available to help familiarise DEO members with their use. Chandler emphasised the need for this exercise and has pledged his support.
Minister Lane expressed his appreciation saying, “The importance really of this is not just to say we have the Grab and Go kits but to have the training and to be prepared before the high winds come, or the earthquake or whatever natural or man-made disaster [comes].”
He stated, “It is always better to be prepared and to do things to mitigate when the eventuality becomes a reality. So, for me, this is just the beginning.” He wants the schools in the city to be equipped and training to be extended to them as well. “If anything happens, we can feel comfortable that we have done our best to mitigate and ensure that our capital city is safe. I am very happy to be able to start to rebuild disaster preparedness in the city of Bridgetown,” he added.