Holiday driving programmes offered

When the National Drug Council’s office, upstairs Paddington Place was wiped out by Hurricane Ivan, it may have seemed that this loss would stymie the Council’s programmes.

Not so for the resilient staff of the NDC, states a press release.

If anything, Ivan has allowed the NDC to bring renewed focus to its programmes and to expand its outreach to the community. As staff of the NDC immersed themselves in the task of re-establishing a new office – this time on the ground floor of the Compass Centre building, Shedden Road – they also extended themselves to assist with the rebuilding efforts on Grand Cayman.

Since 19 November, the NDC has allowed its office to be used as a Disaster Assistance Centre, from noon to 6pm Monday to Friday. In addition, the Council was involved in the recent peer counselling forum, another element in its expanded community role.

And now, the NDC is back on track with its own long-running programmes, two of which residents have come to expect during this holiday period.

‘The impact of Hurricane Ivan, and now a shrinking budget for the NDC, means that we are operating on even more limited resources at this time,’ stated Mrs. Catherine Chesnut, Chief Executive Officer of the Council. ‘Nevertheless we are redoubling our efforts to fulfil our mandate to formulate policies, develop programmes and provide public education to prevent or reduce drug abuse in our community,’ she stated.

She noted that now, more than ever, these efforts will require partnerships with the private sector and corporate sponsorships of the Council’s projects will be critical if the NDC is to continue to successfully implement its programmes.

This year sees the renewal of the Designated Driver Programme and the Purple Ribbon Bus Programme, both designed to heighten awareness of and provide a practical solution to drinking and driving. ‘These programmes are especially important at this time, given the recent lifting of the curfew and heavily promoted parties being staged by several establishments on Grand Cayman. They are an important element of the anti-drink driving strategy that the police are keen to enforce,’ Mrs. Chesnut said.

Carry on

She lauded her staff for its tireless efforts in maintaining the work of the Council.

‘We are pleased to be able to carry on with the projects that this community has come to expect of us and our small staff must be commended for ensuring that during this holiday season, our Designated Driver and Purple Ribbon Bus programmes are there to ensure that we all have a safe and enjoyable season,’ she noted.

NDC renews its campaign to sensitise persons to having a designated driver, if they are going to consume alcohol, as part of their holiday celebrations. This year, NDC has designed special cards with myths and facts on alcohol use that will be placed in more than 25 restaurants and bars. Patrons of these establishments can ‘test their alcohol IQ’ with these information cards, which are available from yesterday.

On New Year’s Eve, NDC’s Purple Ribbon buses will roll again to provide a safe and alternative to persons taking care of their own driving.

Ten buses have been reserved to run a regular route from West Bay to Bodden Town, with occasional service to East End and North Side. Buses will run from 9pm to 4am at 30-minute intervals and will pick up passengers outside major restaurants, bars or at bus stops along the routes.

Buses serving the west side of the island will be numbered 1 through 4; those serving the loop between Terminal One at Lobster Pot Restaurant and Terminal Two at Durty Reid’s will be numbered 5 and 6 and buses plying the Eastern Districts will be marked 7 through 10. The service is free and interested persons simply have to hop on.

Beyond the holiday period, NDC will step up its campaign to create an environment that promotes safe and responsible use of alcohol, with the launch of a training programme, ‘designed to teach servers, sellers and consumers of alcohol to prevent intoxication, drunk driving and under-age drinking.

The programme is called TIPS – Training for Prevention Procedures – and provides training sessions that will help servers of alcohol identify potential problems such as under-age drinking, intoxication as well as encourage responsible drinking behaviour. TIPS provides a three-year certification, which is internationally recognized.

Registration for the programme has begun and interested businesses should contact the NDC to be scheduled for training sessions.

Behind the scenes, Mrs. Chesnut says, the NDC is also working and lobbying for further changes to ensure public safety. ‘While we are often visible with public education programmes, equally importantly we are active behind the scenes lobbying for social change, Mrs. Chesnut said. ‘Our efforts support those of the police, and organisations such as the National Road Safety Advisory Council and MattSafe. We see ourselves as part of an integrated approach to community issues and at this time, are pleased to be part of the national recovery effort.’

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